Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Game 83: Pirates 6 Reds 5

This was a weird game. In one column you've got Edinson Volquez starting against us, Jack Wilson running the bases like an idiot, Freddy Sanchez bunting with two strikes, Matt Capps and the Flat Fastball, Damaso Marte giving up home runs, and Romulo! firing fastballs towards the plate with no clue where they're going to end up. On the other hand you've got a finally hot Adam LaRoche, Obi-Wan Mientkiewicz playing inexplicably great defense in the outfield, Jack Wilson ripping three hits in the nine slot, and a decent start from Zach Duke. It all adds up to a Pirate 6-5 win, even if I'm not exactly clear on the math that gets us there.

Tonight the major sticking point was the bullpen again. With a 3-1 lead in the eighth and only the Marte-Capps bridge left to cross, Marte gave up a two-run bomb to Brandon Phillips. Then with the Pirates taking a 4-3 lead in the tenth on Jason Michaels' RBI double, Capps blew the save again and nearly lost this one when Ken Griffey Jr. hit a flyout to the warning track. THEN, after an 11th inning pounding of Dave Weathers, Romulo Sanchez comes out to finish out the win with his 94 mph fastball that seems to either rise, sink, or tail away from righties. That would be fantastic, but I'm not sure he's got any idea which one of those the pitch is going to do when it leaves his hand. He did somehow close out the win, but not before Corey Patterson ripped a line drive to Jason Bay with two runners on base and one run already in. Nothing is easy for the Pirates.

One more random observation from this one that's more of a carryover from the short bit of Yankees game I attended last week; Nate McLouth is a pretty terrible route runner in the outfield. He's actually a lot like Nyjer Morgan out there. In the Yankees games, two of the extra-base hits off of Maholm in that first inning were balls that seemed like fly outs off the bat, but McLouth couldn't trace down. I thought maybe the swirling winds had something to do with that, but a couple of replays tonight (especially on the balls hit in the 11th inning) from behind home plate seemed to confirm it to me. He's not as bad as Nyjer Morgan out there and he's got good speed, so it's not always noticeable (I'm not really even saying he's a BAD fielding center fielder), but he's not nearly as good with the glove as it sometimes seems on TV. Maybe I shouldn't complain on a night when he had two hits, drove in a run in the 11th, and finally showed some signs of breaking out of this slump.