Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Pirates Rant™

Great. Now I’m conflicted again. I both a) desperately want the Pirates to win, and b) desperately want the Pirates to fire GM Dave Littlefield. Well, if (a) happens, (b) won’t happen for another 5 years or so, so therefore (a) would be a bad thing. Only...I can never root against (a) to happen. Well...after last week, I was a little relieved. A 3-0 start was followed by a 1-6 stretch that included the worst offense anybody’s seen on a baseball diamond. The Pirates weren’t winning, which sucked, but we were back on track in showing Littlefield the door. And then the Bucs swept a 2-game series in St. Louis to move back to .500. Who knows what to think at this point...

Being in mid-Missouri, the only times I get to watch the Buccos are when they’re playing the Cubs on WGN, the Braves on TBS, or (mostly) the Cards on Fox Sports MW. Which stinks because, well, they almost always lose to the Cards. Last week, however, they got creative with it. Bringing a 4-2 record into their first home series of the year, they got swept by a Cards team that was a) without Chris Carpenter, and b) getting absolutely nothing from Albert Pujols.

After losing their home opener 3-0 (getting literally no run support for Ian Snell), the Bucs exploded for 2 runs the next night, taking a 2-0 lead into the 9th (Tom Gorzelanny pitched 7 shutout innings). Salomon Torres wasted little time in blowing his first save of the year, giving up a single to David Eckstein and walking Chris Duncan. Albert Pujols flew out to left, but Jason Bay stupidly threw to 3rd base, allowing Duncan to tag to 2nd. So when Scott Spezio singled to right, two runs scored instead of one. The Pirates treaded water for a couple innings before allowing John “Why in the world am I on the roster when the Pirates have a bunch of real, live arms in AAA?” Wasdin to pitch the 12th. Wasdin wasted no time in allowing the winning run to score in the form of painfully slow Gary Bennett tagging from 3rd on a short fly to left. Wasdin was assisted in losing by Bay’s horrifically weak arm and catcher Ronny Paulino’s bobbling of an easy tag. All in all, it was a great night. And it ended Pittsburgh’s 8 days over .500.

Needless to say, there was no surprise when, the next afternoon, Torres entered a 2-2 game in the 9th and quickly gave up the game-winning run, completing the sweep. The Pirates went up against Braden Looper, Randy Keisler, and Adam Wainwright, and made them look like Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. They were swept despite giving up 9 runs in 3 games. Good times.

The Pirates then moved to 0-4 at home (4-6 overall) with a horrible outing against San Francisco, allowing 7 runs in the first two innings and letting Russ “Worst Starter in the NL” Ortiz to channel Juan Marichal for 8 innings and eventually losing, 8-5.

Did I mention the Pirates’ offense is worse than it’s ever been?

But imagine my downright shock when, last night at Busch, the Pirates entered the 9th with a 3-2 lead (they scored 3 runs!!!), immediately loaded the bases with a) a muffed grounder to first, b) a botched grounder to third (the ball hit the bag and bounced over Jose Bautista’s head), and c) a hit batsmen, and then DIDN’T blow the game. I felt strangely empty when neither Chris Duncan nor Albert Pujols hit a game-winning grand slam. Like Ron Livingston said in Swingers, you get used to the pain, and you almost miss it when it’s gone.

And then imagine my surprise when they dominated the Cards this afternoon in a 6-1 win (fear not...two of those runs came off of Cardinal errors...they didn’t score 6 runs on their own).


* Put it this way: when the best thing that happens all week is getting two home games rained/snowed out, you had a hideous week.

* Through three starts, Ian Snell has been amazing. He owns a 1.80 ERA with 20 K’s (and only 19 baserunners allowed) in 20 innings. Of course, the offense is so terrible that he’s only 1-1 in that stretch, but he’s done great.

* Through three starts, Tom Gorzelanny has also been outstanding. Through 20 1/3 innings, Gorzy has a 1.33 ERA and has also allowed only 19 baserunners. If the Bucs’ bats ever start making contact, these two could take the team a long ways. Too bad that probably won’t happen.


* Eleven games into the season, the Pirates have scored >5 runs in a game ONE FREAKING TIME.

* Zach Duke, after two quality starts to begin the season, absolutely imploded against the Giants on Friday. Salomon Torres, after four automatic saves to start the season, got lit up twice by the Cards. Not a good sign. No matter how good Snell and Gorzy have been, they can't carry both an offense and the rest of the pitching staff.