Well it’s nearly 2am on a Friday night and just like everybody else on the WVU campus, I’m wide awake. With music blaring out my window and everybody awake and drunk, they’re having a good time. Me on the other hand, am quite depressed. I hate when the Pirates lose, I hate when the Pirates lose in extra innings and I really hate when a former Pirate beats the Pirates in extra innings. All three occured tonight. In the bottom of the 12th of the 1th with Chris Burke on second Brian Giles came through with a sharp line drive into right field. It hurt inside. I had passed up a night of debouchery (yes debouchery) to stay on my couch and watch my team. It also hurt because seeing Giles come through in the clutch brought back fond memories.
The good old days of the 100 loss first season at PNC Park. Giles hit a walkoff homerun against the Astros towards the end of summer. I’ll never forget fathers day 2001 when Giles slid across home plate to down the Indians and give the Pirates their first series sweep of the year. Giles was a good player and i’ll never forget his batting stance, short stature, power swing and of course the McLouth-esque slicked back blonde hair.
I really do feel we should have won this game. We were right in it but squandered key opportunities. Here are my 3-up, 3-down for tonight’s contest.
- Jason Jaramillo- Great plate discipline and game control. He can definately handle the weight for these next 8-10 Doumit-less weeks
- Ian Snell- solid game in a quality start. Looking to finally come around and become the starter we all knew he could be.
- Brandon Moss- 1st RBI of the year….bout time bud
- Jack Wilson- 0-5. Pooped, yes pooped out on a bunt, that could have broken the game open.
- Nyjer Morgan- while he is leading the NL in stolen bases with 6 he wa spicked off on a key base running incident in the 9th inning.
- Matt Capps- gave up the winning run, looked shaky and not his overpowering self.
Well, there’s two more game to be played. With DUUUUUUUUKE on the mound tomorrow it’ll be interesting to see if his hot streak continues. Gotta get the whole team back on the hot streak more than anything.
PHOTO CREDIT: espn.com
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…3-2
Scrappy, hard-nosed, intrepid—> three words you would used for a football player, James Harrison or Ben Roethisberger perhaps. On Saturday those three adjectives switched sports and fit a baseball player to a T. Nyjer Morgan continued his streak of contingency by going 3-4. Morgan notched a triple and a pair singles while stealing two bases. Perfect fantasy numbers for you gurus out there. Those numbers were quite frankly outstanding and good enough for a 10-2 Pirate win over the Cincinatti Reds. .
The bats of the whole lineup were out in full force. Nate McClouth went 2-3 with 3 RBI and went deep in the top of the first with a 2-run homer, his second of the year.
The big sticks hammered Cinci reliever Mike Lincoln in the top of the ninth innings. Ryan Doumit went deep for a grand slam and Adam LaRoche follwed suit with a solo shot of his own.
Without the ingenious play of Morgan on the base paths the grand slam would have been an after thought. Morgan used a hard slide into second base to break up a would be double play. Earlier in the game the instincts of Morgan shone once again as he topple over Cinci catcher Ramon Hernandez breaking up what could have been a close play at the plate.
I’ve priased Morgan for his opening series heroics but he proved today that hard play will be the norm for our starting left fielder. It’s great to see him giving his all out there and enjoying playing the game.
With all the praise for the offense it should go without saying that the starting pitching really gave the Pirate’s the upper hand. Paul Maholm was sharp, just as he was in his opening day appearance. The Mississippi native went seven innings only allowing three hits. Nasty stuff was thrown from his arm all day and his control was spot on, only walking three batters.
On Easter Sunday the Bucs will battle the Reds agin for the final game of teh rain shortened series. Only 2 days ’til the PNC Park home opener. So Pumped and ready to take in the game at the most beautiful park in all of baseball.
Jolly Roger photo- uts.cc.utexas.edu
It’s no question Chris Carpenter is back. Earning his first win since late 2006 Carpenter came out and dismissed the Pirates like they were a little league team.
Carpenter went 7 innings only allowing one hit which also came in the seventh inning. The former CY Young winner struck out seven Bucco batters.
Freddy Sanchez, who has been the hottest Pirates at the plate and leads the team with a .444 BA said plain and simply that Carpenter was “filthy”
Crapenter’s superb outing overshadowed Pirate starter Ross Ohlendorf’s solid outing. Ohlendorf went six innings allowing two earne druns on six hits. He was surely effective, but just fell apart in the 6th inning due to shaky defense from Sanchez at 2nd.
If Pirate starters can continue to remain effective like Ohlendorf was today, there should be no problem wiining ball games. Holding a team, especially the Cardinals, to two runs is no easy feat and the Pirates should not feel too bad about this loss. I’m not one to hang my head for moral victories and the Pirates should feel the same. As a major league ball club runs should be put on the board and one hit is something that should never happen again. The offense is surely not what it was last year with Bay and Nady, but with the seasoned vets we have in the lineup, everybody should be a threat.
Well now that one series is in the books let’s look back at the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY from the first 4 games.
THE GOOD: NYJER MORGAN
There’s nothing better than silencing your critics. Morgan has had his share of haters throughout his entire career and rightfully so, he had big shoes to fill. It’s never easy to step into the starting role of a major league left fielder. More so, it’s hard to replace a perenial All-Star. After the departure of Jason Bay the Pirates needed someone to step in and act as a Bay. While Morgna lacks the pop of Bay he provides a spark at the top of the lineup and speed in the field. After a Sportscenter top 10 play from Thursday’s game and a .316 batting avergae for the first four games Morgan is proving his worth and shushing the critics. HE BELONGS HERE.
THE BAD: IAN SNELL
Out to prove last season’s dismal performances were a fluke, Snell got off to a horrendous start. After Maholm’s 6 inning one earned run outing on opening day Snell came out the next day and fell flat. Snell only made it through 4 innings after being thrown to the showers. Number 45 gave up six earned runs and Cardinal batters abused him for 9 hits. Not only did Snell’s era skyrocketed to 13 after just one start he also had trouble finsing the strike zone. He only walked 3 batters but gave the hitters favorable counts to work with. Now the Cardinals have a history of toying with Snell . Pujols took him deep as well Chris Duncan. He was rocked to all parts of the field and had no command at all. Snell pitched in the World baseball classic and did somehwhat fine. He didn’t pick up any wins and only allowed a few runs in the big games he pitched. A shortened spring training could be a valuable excuse for Snell. However, with the rest of the rotation doing well Snell will have to step up for his own sake.
THE UGLY: DEFENSE
Ugly is a very generous term for the play of the Pirate denefense. Apalling, Grotesque, Hideous and Putrid also come to mind. Missed pop flys, bases over thrown, bassed balls. O MY. 3 erros in 2 game for Andy LaRoche, overthrows by Sanchez and John Grabow and inexcusable passed balls and a freaking catcher’s interference call by catch Ryan Doumit. Even Nyjer Morgan, who has been very crisp in teh field has over run some balls and misjusdged teh flight path of fly balls. It’s very dementing for a fan to see the sloppy play by these guys. I can only imagine how manager John Russell and even the pitcher’s feel when routine plays are bothced. It’s very shameful.
Heading down the Ohio River, Pittsburgh will take on the Cincinatti Reds for a three game series over the weekend.
4. espn.com (ap photo)
2008: BA=.318 HR=15 RBI=69
2009: BA- .285 HR= 22 RBI=95
2008: BA=.270 HR=25 RBI=85
2009: BA=.280 HR=27 RBI= 90
2008: BA= .271 HR= 9 RBI= 52
2009: BA= .268 HR=13 RBI=60
2008: BA= .152 HR= 3 RBI= 12
2009: BA= .270 HR= 17 RBI= 70
2008: BA= .272 HR= 1 RBI= 22
2009: BA= .248 HR= 8 RBI= 45
2008: BA= .294 HR= 0 RBI= 7
2009: BA= .250 HR= 4 RBI= 38
2008: BA= .276 HR= 26 RBI= 94
2009: BA= .270 HR= 18 RBI= 80
2008: BA=.222 HR= 6 RBI= 23
2009: BA=.240 HR= 17 RBI= 45
The one thing missing in this lineup is definitely the power. It will also be interesting to see how many of these penciled in starters will still have their jobs in tact come September. Morgan, Moss and An. LaRoche are the biggest liabilities at their respective positions. With top notch prospects and a solid bench knocking down the door, competition will be prevalent throughout the season. “Only the strong survive” Who will be the strong for the Buccos this season?
Many Pittsburgh fans are calling for this guys head and don’t feel that it is justified. He is having a poor spring and there is a lot of competion for outfield spots. This spring Morgan is batting well under .200 and fans feel he is not taking the responsibility of being a major leaguer seriously. Not only this year, but since his first two years in the big show he has always been criticized. pirates.com messgae board posters as well as onlybucs.com forum contributers complain that his approach at the plate is sporadic and he doesn’t take proper routes to fly balls in the outfield.
I say this is all hogwash.
Morgan is an asset with his glove in the outfield. He makes highlight reel catches and uses his speed to cover the spacious centerfield/leftfield grass in PNC Park.
Theres no doubt Morgan has spped and his doubters feel he doen’t use it to his full potential. He hasn’t quite shown the ability to be a top notch base stealer, in fact he has been called out for showing incompetence on the basepaths.
It may seem like I am bashing Mr. Morgan to pieces, but these are not MY thoughts on the 28 year old athlete.
I enjoy Morgan’s passion for the game. He is happy to be playing baseball and enjoys being in Pittsburgh. Earlier in spring training Morgan went around the clubhouse with his own personal camcorder engaging players and fooling around with his buddies. He is a social butterfly bringing a good vibe and energy.
He is a good guy with his beaming smile and personable attitude. In a game last year in September, the crowd was sparse after an hour rain delay, but me and my buddies manned down the fort in our left field loonies bleacher seats. He acknowledged us and thanked us for staying throughout the game and being enthusiastic through it all. Amdist our chants of “MORGANTOWN, MORGANTOWN, MORGANTOWN!” Nyjer tossed us a ball from batting practice. I still proudly display it on my nightstand.
Nyjer can and will be a major league player. Whenever he has had the opportunity he has come through and delievered. With a career batting average in the .290’s he is an asset at the plate. He just needs to play everyday. He’s not a good bench player. Last season he would come in as a pinch hitter, cold with splinters in his butt from riding the bench. By cracking the starting lineup Morgan will be able to utilize his speed all game long and take his sound approach at the plate more often.
Some fans may remember Tike Redman. Redman was practically given the starting centerfield job by former manager Llyod McClendon. Redman had a mediocre spring and an even more ugly regular season, he was released and has currently been a minor league drifter.
I hope the results do not match up for Morgan. GM Neal Huntington has said that a player can’t lose his job in spring training meaning it looks like Morgan is secure…for now. Fans will just have to get used to the San Francisco native roaming the outfield. With undidived support Morgan will surely strive and prove his haters wrong.
All photos are property of pirates.mlb.com