Monday, March 31, 2008

The 2008 Opener: LIVEBLOG!!!

Yes, I see that Ryan Doumit is starting tonight. Yes, Snell is on the mound. Yes, I am strongly pessimistic about this team's chances to do anything worthwhile in the 2008 season. And yes, I am freaking psyched that the Pirates and baseball are back. I will be liveblogging tonight and I'm going to try the very rare double liveblog, as I'll be blogging the whole thing here and at least part of it at FanHouse. This thread is the liveblog thread, which means it's also the first gamethread of the year. The winter's over, people. It doesn't get much better than today. To make this easy on me, we're going top down, so new stuff is on the bottom. And yes, I changed my mind on this like three times.

Pre-game: The first three innings at FanHouse will be here. I'm splitting the post up with a (gasp) Braves' fan. I'm not sure who gets the last three innings yet. It may be decided by who's ahead.

If you are unfamiliar with how things are done here, it's been noticed that Ian Snell pitches best when he's pissed off. Accordingly, I took to insulting him before his starts last year in order to draw a better performance. I tailed off after the All-Star break, but it's a new year and we're starting strong again. Today we go back to Douglas Adams:
Ian, you're a wanker, a tosspot, a very tiny piece of turd!!!

I almost had a heart attack when my MLB Extra Inning channels were all blank. Lucky for me (and you), the games are all still there. In fact, I'm watching Erik Bedard and counting down the innings until his arm explodes and shatters Seattle's hopes already.

Braves announcers, NOOOOO!!!!

The Braves have just a tomahawk behind home plate. So instead of the old, inoffensive script "A" or the script "Braves" over the tomahawk, they decided to go with nothing but the racist imagery. Classy.

And now they're showing Sid Bream. Kill me. Please.

What the hell number is John Russell? Is that thing a seven?

Top 1: McLouth leading off. That's a +1 for John Russell and Neal Huntington. He walks on five pitches. Freddy, meanwhile, takes ball 1 and chases two pitches out of the zone, then watches one in the dirt. Nate doesn't seem to notice it's in the dirt and gets picked off my McCann. Ugh. Freddy flies out to center and it's two down like nothing. Bay grounds a 2-1 pitch to third and Glavine's out of the inning without really demonstrating that he can consistently throw strikes tonight. Of course, his scouting report for the whole team probably read, "Will swing at anything."

Bottom 1: We're ten minutes into the new Pirate season and I have a headache. Right on time.

Jason Bay makes a nice running catch of a sinking Kelly Johnson line-drive. According to BravesTV, every single one of Snell's pitches thus far has been 92 mph.

Yuniel Escobar singles and moves to second on Chipper Jones' bounce out. Teixeira is up. I am terrified.

Luckily, it's over nothing as Snell gets Big Teix to pop-out to Nate in center. Scoreless innings. Oh, yeaaaaah. SNELL DOES THAT.


Nady bounces out. I swear to you I won't start the Steve Pearce watch until at least the second week of the season.

Ryan Doumit is starting in the opener against a lefty. This is significant. He singles pu the middle and moves LaRoche to third. LaRoche could've scored, but holding him up was the right call.

Jose Bautista and his beard are up. Hey, Jose, here's a quarter, why don't you go down town and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face. His beard strikes out.

Jack Wilson is, of course, first pitch swinging against Glavine, who is still struggling with control. He lucks out when Kelly Johnson drops his dribbler, which should've extended the inning. Instead, it puts the Pirates up 1-0 and gives them their first lead of the season.

Snell, who I'm sure was more concerned with working up righteous anger with whoever is going to bat against him next inning, bounces into a fielder's choice to end the inning. 1-0 Pirates.

Bottom 2: Snell looks good, he gets McCann to bounce out on the first pitch, then strikes out Francouer on a pitch in the dirt, then gets Kotsay to fly out to Bay in left. Nice inning for Snell.

Top 3: McLouth pops up to left-center, while the Braves announcers compare him to Andy Van Slyke, which leads them to talk about, you guessed it, Sid Bream. This thing's going on mute in a second.

Freddy lasers a single up the middle, then Bay strikes out looking (but hey, at least he didn't wave at a pitch low and away ... Glavine actually made a nice pitch that completely fooled him).

LaRoche gets an infield single on a ball that probably should've been a groundout, but then Glavine freezes Nady with a backdoor curve. Three outs, though Glavine is laboring.

Bottom 3: Snell gets Diaz to bounce out, but walks Glavine. Bad idea jeans right there.

Kelly Johnson follows with a single. That old familiar feeling is creeping back in ...

... And there it is! Triple from Yuniel Escobar scores both runners. 2-1 Braves.

Snell then hangs a couple pitches to Chipper before getting him to ground to third, which scores Escobar. Tex then lines out to Jack at short. Snell looks like he's lost everything he had on the ball in the blink of an eye.

Top 4: Doumit flies out to right before Bautista's beard doubles over Francouer's head in right field. I keep thinking Glavine's about to settle in, but he isn't. I'm not sure if he's really struggling or the Pirates are being patient, but he's thrown a TON of pitches tonight. I mean, Jack Wilson just walked.

Why in the hell is Ian Snell wearing a double-flapped batting helmet? Man, that looks dorky. Did he lose a bet?

He manages to get the sac bunt down which is, whatever, we're not discussing bunting now.

McLouth nearly makes the bunt worth it by ripping a single to center, but Jack Wilson is thrown out by a mile at the plate by Kotsay. Dear Tony Beasley: WTF, Dude? We're killing Glavine and Jack had no chance of scoring there. Just a stupid play to take the bat out of Freddy's hands.

Top 4: Give up homers to Brian McCann (or any lefty?)? Snell does that. 4-2 Braves. McCann has three homers in 11 ABs against Snell. That's a slugging percentage of like a million.

Snell just walked Jeff Francouer. I would say that's a bad sign, but that's like saying that writing two liveblogs at the same time is insane. That is to say, obvious.

Snell nearly gets Kotsay to bounce into a DP, but he just beats the throw. Doumit then allows his first passed ball that is scored as a wild pitch of the year, which moves Kotsay to second. Russell, the ex-catcher won't like that.

Diaz grounds out to second and moves Kotsay to third, but even that ball is sharply hit. Even if Snell gets out of this inning, the fifth is going to be trouble with the top of the lineup back up.

Snell does get out of the inning by striking out Glavine, so at least that's going well. That might be his first strikeout of the night. If it is, that's telling.

Top 5: Bloop single by Freddy. We've got to get to Glavine this inning. Like, right now.

An almost double play was not what I was talking about. Luckily, Bay beats the throw to first to keep the tying run at the plate against the withering Glavine.

LaRoche isn't so lucky. Double play, inning over. Damn damn damn.

Bottom 5: Martin Prado rips a flyball to deep center, but McLouth does a nice job running it down. It's hard to take a bad route to that ball, but hey, it was a nice play by Nate.

Yunel Escobar picks up his third hit by singling up the middle. FWIW, the Braves announcer really like Tyler Yates and think he was a good pickup for us. Doumit makes another nice stop on a ball in the dirt and he's look pretty good tonight save the one ball that got away. Meanwhile, Chipper Jones loops an infield single in behind third. Bautista made a nice play to stop the ball, but had no real play anywhere.

Wow. Jack just made an awesome stab on a hard-hit ball by McCann and turned it into an inning ending double play. That inning looked like some real trouble for Snell, but Jack and Freddy completely bailed him out on that one. And write this down: Snell got McCann out.

Top 6: Glavine's out, hard throwing Chris Resop is in. Nady rips a fastball into the gap for a double.

Doumit bounces out to first, which moves Nady over to third. Bautista also has a nice at-bat and fights off a pitch that jammed the crap out of him to ground out and score Nady. Jack ends the inning with a ground out. 4-3 Braves.

Bottom 6: Oops, I was wrong. That was Tex that hit into the DP. Now McCann's up, against Snell who's still out there. I'm terrified.

Bay just made his third honest-to-goodness nice running catch out in left. That's probably the best sign that his knee is feeling better that we can ask for.

Hey, hey! Francouer chases a pitch out of the strike zone with a really nice slider. Two down for Snell. Kotsay singles, but Diaz grounds out in front of the plate to end the inning and probably the night for Snell.

Top 7: Yep, Nyjer Morgan's in to bat for Snell, which has Cox going back to the pen and gives me a bit of a breather.

Nyjer Morgan is ballsy and fast as hell. Not many people take second like he did on a hit to Francouer like that. McLouth bunts him over. That is seriously retarded. Morgan has Willie Mays Hayes speed. He could score from second on a sac fly. Taking the bat away from the top of the lineup freaking kills me.

Sanchez then bounces out to Escobar at short. If we're going to be bunting Morgan to third like that, he should've been running on that play.

Bay then hits what should've been an inning ending ground out, but the Yunel Escobar makes a bad throw giftwraps the second run of the evening for the Pirates. It's 4-4 and Moylan is done in favor of another lefty for LaRoche. Bobby Cox is not counting on this thing going extras.

Of course, it's the right move. Chris Ring comes in and strikes out Adam LaRoche. 4-4 into the bottom of the seventh.

Bottom 7: Damn, the Pens are in overtime.

Tyler Yates is on to face his old team. By old I mean, "the guys he pitched for last week."

As advertised, Yates throws some gas. He gets a ground out from a pinch hitter, a fly out to Nady in right and then walks Escobar. That brings Chipper up. That scares me.

YEAAAAAAAH! Yates K's Chipper with some serious gas. I like this guy, mainly because I hate Chipper.

Top 8: Manny Acosta in for the Braves.

It is safe to say that Xavier Nady loves Opening Day. After his heroics against Brad Lidge last year, he rips an opposite field homer off of Acosta to put the Pirates up 5-4. It's time for the obligatory, "Shall I call you Logan, Wolverine?" "NO! Weapon-X snikty-snitky-snikt!"

Doumit singles. He's seeing the ball well from the left-side tonight.

I'm falling behind here. Bautista strikes out and Acosta gets ahead of Wilson, but then walks him.


Mientkiewicz hit a sac fly, but who cares because ... NATE MCLOUTH! THREE RUN HOMER! BUCS UP EIGHT-FOUR! OHHHHHHH YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

Acosta's done and Jeff Bennett's on. He was a casualty of the nightmare Rule 5 draft of 2003, I believe.

He walks Freddy, Bay hits the ball to Chipper and he throws it away for yet another Braves' error, and finally Bennett strikes out LaRoche to end the inning with the Bucs ahead 8-4.

Bottom 8: Grabow's in to pitch to Tex, McCann, et al. I would've used Marte here. Just sayin'.

Eh, I'm a moron. He strikes out Tex and get's McCann to fly out to Bay. Francouer grounds out to end the inning.

Top 9: We're just crushing the Braves pen right now. Nady and Doumit leadoff the ninth with hard hit singles, then Bautista makes a nice little bunt to score another run. If John Russell is going to be bunting this much this year, the two of us are going to have serious issues.

Hey hey it's Chris Gomez! He walks. Also, someone made an out. The lineup tells me it was probably Jack Wilson, but I wasn't paying a ton of attention. Nate McLouth strikes out looking because the umpires want to go home. Hard to blame them.

Bottom 9: Marte's in. He immediately puts Kotsay on, which is odd since Kotsay is a lefty and Marte is an old Voodoo word that means "Death to Lefties." I just made that up, can you tell?

Not a great outing for Marte, as he struck out Matt Diaz, then walked Ruben Gotay. Russell isn't screwing around and he goes and gets Marte and brings Matt Capps the strike machine in to close things out. We hope.

Capps of course walks Martin Prado. 26 walks in 163 and 2/3 innings, and suddenly he can't throw one here. He falls behind 2-0 to Escobar before Jeff Andrews heads out to the mound.

Capps walks Escobar on four pitches. One run in, Chipper Jones is up. Chipper Freaking Jones. I've got a bad feeling about this.

Jones singles in two runs. Runners on the corner, one out, 9-7 Pirates. This is bad bad bad.

Tex pops up. McCann's up with the game on the line. McCann has "Pirate killer" written all over him right now.

McCann pops up and maybe you felt relief for a minute, but someone Bay missed the ball by a mile. I mean, it wasn't even close. I have no idea what in the hell happened, but it lets Escobar and Jones score. Holy freaking crap. Francouer pops up and McLouth makes a nice diving catch to end the inning, but the damage is done. We're going to lose this game, even though the Braves probably only have Mark Wholers left in the pen. I hate the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Top 10:
Freddy doubles off of Soriano. Whatev.

Bay lines out, though he did hit the ball hard. The Braves elect to walk LaRoche for Nady. This is probably a bad idea.

Nady strikes out on a juicy hanging slider. I absolutely could not care less about the rest of this game. Doumit pops-up and the inning is over.

Bottom 10: We're going to lose.

We didn't lose yet. Time for the 11th.

Top 11: The Braves are now on their last pitcher. They could have Warren Spahn out there and it wouldn't matter.

We go down 1-2-3. On the bright side, Franquellis Osoria got to bat. I say the bright side, because I strangely like to watch relief pitchers bat. On to the bottom of the 11th with the heart of the Braves order due up.

Bottom 11: Top of the order up for the Braves. I have a mammoth headache.

The Braves go down in order. WHYYY?!?!

Top 12: Top of the order up. What do you think the odds of scoring here are? None and none?

Single for McLouth. Freddy bunts him over. Bay walks. LaRoche pops up. Nady three-run jack.

Wait, what? Are you kidding me? Are the Pittsburgh Pirates actually winning this f*cking game?

Bottom 12: The Braves are up now because someone made an out. My brain doesn't work any more. Osoria is still pitching. Teixeira bounces out.

This is strange: Osoria, who can't get lefties out to save his life, gets McCann and Teixeira, then gives up a long bomb to Francouer. 12-10. Not over yet.

Kotsay doubles into the corner. The tying run is at the plate. Osoria looks gassed.

Matt Diaz singles in Kotsay. It's 12-11 now. Honestly, I wouldn't believe this game if it wasn't happening before my own eyes.

Holy crap, some fellow named Corky Miller hits a fly ball to center and Nate McLouth actually managed to catch the ball. Which means that the Pirates actually win this game. Let me repeat that: the Pirates actually win this game. 12-11.

What in the hell just happened?