The Pirates start out the second half of the season with a nice win over the Washington Nationals. They had some decent pitching and timely hitting to get this W.
Zach Duke continues to struggle with his control but he ended up getting the win to raise his record to 6-8 but his ERA is 5.15. He definitely doesn’t look anywhere near the form of last year. The staff as a whole has had a lot of command issues this season, I am not sure if its mechanics or mental but I hope Colburn can figure them out. Matt Capps is our best reliever (aside of Gonzo) and we have to give credit to Jim Tracy for this one. Tracy raved about Capps’ skills from the beginning of Spring Training and Capps’ performance has backed up Tracy’s talk. Torres came in to the game and promptly walked Soriano on four straight balls after getting ahead 0-2. Then he threw a wild pitch allowing a runner to score. There is a big part of me that hopes Torres gets traded at deadline, to the point where I may throw a party if he does. I am really interested to see what happens these next couple of weeks with trades and stuff. (On a side note: Did Cam Bonifay make that trade for the Reds? The Nationals absolutely stole two very good players for some relievers who are a dime a dozen.) Freddy keeps hitting and his average is sitting at .359! This batting title may be a serious discussion now with Nomar slowing down a little bit (at this moment Nomar is at .350) and that may be the only reason fans are following the Pirates come September! Keep it up Freddy!
The hitting was awesome tonight. Jack Wilson had three hits and I think he is one of the unsung heroes in this lineup. If he starts hitting like he did a month and a half ago the lineup will get a big lift. Bay hit the ball hard all night and I see a BIG hot streak coming up for him in the near future. Bautista continues to impress with his power hitting his 11th home run in only 187 at bats! (Another side note: Littlefield would have been burned at the stake if Bautista was doing this for say the Devil Rays, one of the teams that had him last year. We would have lost him and Shelton to Rule 5 picks! We did lose Bautista to rule 5 but ended up making a trade involving him. I don’t understand how we get killed in Rule 5 recently, next year we will end up losing Jason Bay.)
Gonzalez has been a big bright spot for this team but has gone a little unnoticed. He has been a perfect 14/14 in save situations, after years of setting up for Jose Mesa. I am a big fan of Gonzo and hope he can keep this success up the rest of the year and for many years to come.
Ending Note: I am going to make a fearless prediction and say that the Pirates are going to make a nice turnaround in the second half of the season. I think the starters will pitch deeper in games and better because of the experience they received through the first half of the year. The hitting hasn’t been a problem and I think they will keep up their end of the bargain. I am not saying they are going to get back to .500 but I think they will end up a couple games over .500 for the second half. I am going to predict 38-33 for the last 71 games of the season.
The game itself was pretty awesome. I can’t believe Hoffman blew it with 2 outs and nobody on. When the lineups were announced I think that Freddy got a louder ovation than Bay. I really think he has become the most popular player for the Pirates. It was awesome to see him make the two best defensive plays of the game and here the whole crowd chant "FREDDY! FREDDY!" Bay also played well and he smoked a single but struck out in his other two at bats. Brad Penny was throwing GAS. I couldn’t believe how hard he was throwing.
The Clemente tribute was a nice touch and it was good to see Chuck Tanner and the older Pirates throw out the first pitch. After the pitch was thrown, they played "We Are Family" over the loud speakers. It was pretty cool.
This was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I am so glad that I had the opportunity (thanks to my dad) to do this. Hopefully I can do it again when the All Star game comes back to the ‘Burgh.
Final Note: Sadly the Pirates miserable season that was forgotten for a couple days, resumes again tomorrow. This all star game will be the last time a meaningful game will be played in Pittsburgh for along time! Let’s see if the Bucs can turn this season around and make some good trades that will help us out for next year!
I don’t have enough time right now to talk about my whole trip to the game but I can talk about most of it. Going to Pittsburgh to witness the 77th All Star game, and all the hoopla that surrounded it, was one of the top experiences in my life. The atmosphere in the town was electric and the whole scene was amazing.
Me and my father got in to Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon and headed into the FanFest. The convention center was HUGE and it had everything you can imagine inside of it. We walked through and found the ****’s Sporting Goods section. I had to get myself a Freddy Sanchez all-star shirt, which they said was one of the hottest selling shirts. At the fan fest we saw Jim Leyland signing autographs along with Ferguson Jenkins but the lines were really long and we still had to find some home run derby tickets. We also ran into Bill Mazeroski in between appearances and on his cell phone. Unfortunately, we didn’t recognize him until his picture showed up in the paper the next morning with the caption saying he was there. You can imagine how disappointed we were!
We ended up getting tickets to the Home Run Derby and made our way to the left-field bleacher seats. It’s more impressive seeing these home runs hit in person. Ortiz and Howard were absolutely crushing the ball. We were also about 15 feet from TWO Miguel Cabrera home run balls. The first one hit a fat, unathletic guy right in his hands but he dropped it and fell to the ground. The next one was one row in front of the fat guy and it bounced out of a kids glove and right into the fat guys hand. It was unbelievable that he got a second chance to make the catch!
Tuesday was the best day of the whole trip. We got to Pittsburgh early for the Red Carpet show and got a spot right along the fence at the very end of the parade where the players were only 5 feet away from us! When Freddy Sanchez drove by I was holding out my shirt and he pointed to it and pumped his fist! I was pretty excited. The funniest moment was when Paul Lo Duca rode by in his Chevy Avalanche and noticed my dad wearing a Mets shirt. He then stood up and starting shouting "Let’s Go Mets, Let’s Go Mets!" right to my dad and pumping his fist. It was pretty cool. Jason Bay also got a huge ovation. Alyssa Milano walked right by us and we had to take a picture because she is GORGEOUS! Also, we looked up and saw someone walking across the street towards us, it turns out to be Bobby Bonilla! Let’s just say he put on some pounds but it was good re-living the past! The Red Carpet Show was awesome!
Later tonight I can write about the game itself and some tidbits that I am sure I forgot to write about. Talk to you later!
Just like that the Pirates are back on another losing streak. The Mets took the last three games of the series and sent us to Philly with the worst record in all of baseball. Its a low feeling knowing the entire baseball world is pointing and laughing at you saying "they are worse than the Royals!" Kip Wells entered the game on Wed. night with a 15.19 era and somehow he found a way to make his ERA go up after the first inning. I was happy to see him settle down and I hope that is a sign of things to come. Funny how the Pirates pitch 8 no-hit innings and still get blown out. Gorzy struggled last night and his command was way off. Is it me or has the whole staff taken two huge steps BACKWARDS? The way the Pirates have pitched the past two or three weeks has made my stomach more upset then a trip to the Pizza Hut lunch Buffet.
Paulino needs to work really hard in the off season to improve his defense. His pitch calling and work with the young pitchers has been amazing but the amount of errors and passed balls and stolen bases against him are starting to build up. His offense has been really good and I hope that he can become the whole package behind the plate. Freddy Sanchez continues to hit everything he sees and his average is up to .365 but Jason Bay and Jack Wilson continue to look like "lost little boys" if I can quote Ron Guidry. Nate McLouth somehow has turned into a power hitter as he hit a double, triple, and a home run in this series. If he keeps this up the FBI may start monitoring all shipments to his house.
Only 5 more days until I am in PNC watching the All-Star game. As Pirate fans we all could use this all-star break more than the players. Think about this: for 4 whole days there is no losing, no stress, no anger, and most of all no Jim Tracy! Oh how sweet it will be!
Final Note: The Pirates have given up more hits than any other team in Major League Baseball. At 868 hits given up (in 756.2 innings) they lead the Phillies by 17! Not exactly a vote of confidence for Jim Colborn who has a LOT of work to do.
I have a lot to say I don’t even know where to begin. I really am staring at the screen trying to figure out how they blew this one and where to start with my frustration. I can’t take these kind of loses anymore. This is the 25th one run loss the Pirates have suffered in the 85th game, which accounts for about 30 percent of their losses all season. At this pace, they will lose 47 one run games (and that’s with me rounding DOWN) which would set an all time record in futility. The record for most one run losses in a season is 44. This is just miserable.
Have I mentioned how much I dislike Salomon Torres and the amount he is used. He has a great first inning of work but Tracy sends him out for his 56TH INNING of the season. I knew right then it wasn’t going to be easy. When he got Beltran, the first batter he faced in the 8th, to ground out I still wasn’t happy. Then it came. Walk to Delgado, Walk to David Wright and out jogs everyone’s favorite manager Jim Tracy. In comes Roberto Hernandez who gives up a double to Endy Chavez and a base hit to Nady. My heart sank but then I saw Nate McLouth make the throw of his life to beat Chavez to the plate by a good three steps. YES! I screamed at the top of my lungs foolishly thinking the Pirates would get the benefit of the doubt on a close play. I saw the umpire signal him safe and for that one instant I felt like I was 8 years old and Sid Bream just barely beat Mike LaVaillere’s tag at home plate to send the Pirates into a 14 year tailspin. I have to blame Paulino on this one. I thought he was out but it was a close play and the fact that Paulino didn’t block the plate and put the tag on Chavez’s knee didn’t help. Put that with his two throws to second base that made Chuck Knoblauch look like a marksman, and Paulino didn’t have a good defensive game. That being said, I still think Chavez was out and the throw beat him by at least three steps. Man this hurts. We can NEVER get a break.
Then the moment of the game. Jim Tracy’s half hearted argument. He weakly throws his hat at the place Chavez slid and I read his lips calling it B.S. Then that’s it. About 30 seconds. At least he showed some emotion for once but I miss Lloyd McClendon throwing a tirade and taking second base home with him. (Yes I MISS LLOYD MCCLENDON!) At least he had emotion, he had a fire and he let people know when he was upset by getting in their face and letting the whole world know how he felt. Half the time, I am wondering if Tracy is awake. When Tracy came out I was expecting Bobby Knight but I got the Dali Lama.
I don’t get Zach Duke either. How can he cruise for three innings and then get ROCKED in the next. He looked unhittable through 3 innings then he gave up a four run, six hit, 4th inning. He has been doing this ALL year. He has one terrible inning but then cruises the rest of the time. It has to be mental right? And WHY did we take him out after 5.1 innings and 81 pitches. Why? Why? WHY?! God forbid we save the bullpen for ONE game. I think I would rather have Jose Canseco managing this team, at least he would draw some attention. One good note is that his batting average is now 28 points higher than Humberto Cota’s. I wonder if he can catch?
I am getting too emotional, but someone has to do it. I can’t continue on with this post. I wish my life was on TiVo so I could just fast forward to next season.
Final thought: To add insult to extreme depression, Duaner Sanchez got the win to go to 5-0. Yes the same Duaner Sanchez we let go after 8.2 innings. Since then, he has gone 12-8 with a 3.31 era and 147 strikeouts in 209 innings over two and a half years. Oh, hes still only 27. Another great movie by the Pirates. Happy 4th of July.
What a great night for Pirate fans. It only took until the 84th game of the season to "put it all together." Good pitching with timely hitting mixed with good defense am I sounding like Peter Gammons yet? It felt really nice to completely dominate one of the better teams in baseball (Although they aren’t playing like it lately.) I can’t rip the Mets too hard though, my father, brother, and best friend are all die hard Mets fans, not to mention they have 19 more wins then Pirates. But the Mets pitching staff has been picked on worse than the nerdy kids in high school gym class lately. I think you can credit this little rough patch for the Mets being a little complacent with a 10.5 game lead, but then again, who wouldn’t be.
Back to the good guys. How funny were those two Jason Bay plays. You know you are slumping when David Wright steals a double from you and first base steals a single from you, ending up with a hard hit ground out. For those of you who didnt see it, Jason Bay roped a grounder down the line and Wright made a great diving stop saving a double but his throw was high. As Bay was trying to stay away from the leaping Carlos Delgado he completely missed first base. Then he put on a Lindsay Lohan-like acting job trying to get back to first but Delgado taged him out. Later in the night Bay drilled a ball that Cliff Floyd caught on the hop but no one was sure if he caught it in the air. Bay looked as depressed as Damaso Marte when he found out he was traded from the White Sox to the Pirates because he thought Floyd robbed him of another hit. Turns out Floyd didnt catch it and Bay was called out for passing Sean Casey on the basepaths.
Maholm pitched like himself by getting in a lot of jams. However, tonight he got out of all of those james. I think he is going to be a solid pitcher for the Pirates for years to come. He won’t be great until they trade him away I’m sure. (See: Jason Schmidt)
I also find it funny that Jack Wilson is stuck in a month long slump. The funny part is Wilson hasn’t hit anything but he comes up with the bases loaded and swings at a pitch that almost hit him in the face and it falls for a single. Maybe that will turn him around a little because we need Jack to be hitting the ball well. Lets go for two in a row but it will be a tough task against Tom Glavine who has found a time machine and morphed back to his 1993 form when he was 22-6.
Ending Note: As people who have been reading my blog know, I like to end it with a little quote or stat. Today’s is: Paul Maholm has the highest WHIP of any starting pitcher in the NL that qualifies. His whip of 1.74 is 50th of 50 pitchers in the National League. You know there is a cause for concern when you are 14 spots behind Josh Fogg!
The Pirates will miss Martinez on Monday, and maybe for the whole series. It was reported on ESPN.com that Pedro was changing his shirt in a bathroom and slipped and fell on his hip. I swear to God that’s what it said. I know it doesn’t sound believable but look it up on ESPN.com.
I am willing to bet I know what REALLY happened to his hip. The Mets were trying to pass time during their rain delay against the Yankees tonight. (Sunday) They were re-enacting the Red Sox/Yankees brawl but in a brutal twist of fate, Carlos Delgado was Pedro and Pedro was Don Zimmer. As Pedro was charging at Delgado, Carlos caught Jose Reyes trying to steal Joe-bo. He then threw Martinez threw a table in a rage. Martinez hurt his hip, hence why he is not starting tomorrow night.