April 2009

Offense boosts Pirates to a 10-2 dominating victory

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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.

nate.jpgThe 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

Nate photo-AP 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Hits one day…1 the next

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

1. redhotmomma.com

2. mlb.com

3. marinerds.com

4. espn.com (ap photo)

 

Duke is royal in Bucco win

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…2-1

Tonight’s game was a spectacle all Pirate fans enjoyed from start to finish. Teh offense came together and the Pitching was spot on. It was a great night to watch my team win a key game against a division rival.

Nyjer Morgan continued his hot streak going 2-6 with an RBI and run scored. It was also great to see Doumit and McClouth get on the hit board. Nate’s 6th inning solo dinger gave him his first hit of the young season and the second home run hit by a Bucco this season. Ryan collected two hits, a double and a single. However, his blunders in the field were somewhat costly and proved that mechanics are downgraded in our catcher. His catcher interference call was something that I have never seen and something that should be corrected in little league.   Also, he was picked off when rounding first on his single. He should have just stayed on the base, he had no business taking second and paid for his bonehead move.

Zach Duke was fabulous in 6.1 innings of work with only one earned run on five hits. Duke didn’t overpower hitters, but fooled them with off-speed pitches. He also struck out four batters including slugger Albert Pujols. It was great to see the reign continue for Zach, something we haven’t witnessed in over two years. 

Tomorrow’s game will close out the St. Louis series and Ross Ohlendorf will take the mound for his 2009 debut. 


 

ESPN.com brings you images from Opening Day ’09

home plate.jpg Pregame introductions at home plate

larussa.jpgTony LaRussa, third winning-est manager in MLB history waves to fans as pre-game motorcade roams Busch Stadium.

laroche.jpg The Defense of the Pirates was shaky all game, but Adam LARoche managed to avoid a collision with  Brandon Moss to record an out in the 2nd inning.

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After enduring sub 40 degree temperatures and blustery winds this Cardinals fan expected a St. Louis win. Well, unfortunately for him (but fortunately us us Pittsburghers) the Pirates spoiled the wishes of the 40,000 plus fans in attendance with a 6-4 victory.

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Eric Hinske, Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss score the 4th, 5th and 6th runs of the ballgame. Jack Wilson’s double brought in all three Bucco runs.

AND THERE WAS NOOOOOO DOUBT ABOUT IT

Jason Motte…….NOT!

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RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…1-0

Breath it in folks…our Buccos are 1-0. A thrilling come from behind victory in the top of the ninth gave Pittsburgh a 6-4 ‘W’ over the Cards. Everyones favorite shortstop Jack Wilson comes through in rockstar fashion.

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The big top of the ninth came off rookie closer Jason Motte. Motte has been scouted as a future All-Star with a high heater that has once reached 100mph. In his first opportunity to prove his weight Motte not only blew a save but took a loss. His era has sky rocketed to 36.00 after giving up 4 runs on four hits.

On the Pirates side of things, without Paul Maholm the Buccos would not have one this game. Maholm went 6.2 innings with one eraned run on seven hits. The staff ace pitched very well on the mound in chilly, windy conditions. Maholm also came through at the plate. The Mississippi native was 1-1 with a bloop single while drawing three walks. Just getting used to his success at the plate, Paul could use some tips on the base paths. In an attempt to score from third he was caught in a pickle and tagged out. Had he not have disobeyed 3rd base coach Tony Beasley’s stop sign the Pirates could have put the game away early in the 6th inning.

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It was a nerve racking game when Tyler Yates was handed the reigns from the bullpen. I’ve been skeptical of our bullpen since spring tarining and Yates only heightened my negative feelings. The 2 year vet gave up two runs, one of which was a solo homerun by Ryan Ludwick. However, the ‘Mad Capper’ went out for the save and the ‘Big Bull Rider’ himself notched it.

The game today made me proud to be a favorite Pirate fan. It’s great to rub it in my buddies faces for always putting me down because I’m a ‘Burgher. A lot of good came from today. Also, a hint of bad. Stay tuned after Wednesday’s game when The Peas will analyze the first series. Until then, it is a great night to be a Pirate fan wherever you may be.

PHOTO CREDITS

1. Raisethejollyroger.com
2. USA Today
3. zimbio.com

 

Projected stats for Pirates starters

Catcher

Ryan Doumit

2008: BA=.318 HR=15 RBI=69

2009: BA- .285 HR= 22 RBI=95

1st Base

Adam LaRoche

2008: BA=.270 HR=25 RBI=85

2009: BA=.280 HR=27 RBI= 90

2nd Base

Freddy Sanchez

2008: BA= .271 HR= 9 RBI= 52

2009: BA= .268 HR=13 RBI=60

3rd Base

Andy LaRoche

2008: BA= .152 HR= 3 RBI= 12

2009: BA= .270 HR= 17 RBI= 70

Shortstop

Jack Wilson

2008: BA= .272 HR= 1 RBI= 22

2009: BA= .248 HR= 8 RBI= 45

Left Field

Nyjer Morgan

2008: BA= .294 HR= 0 RBI= 7

2009: BA= .250 HR= 4 RBI= 38

Centerfield

Nate McClouth

2008: BA= .276 HR= 26 RBI= 94

2009: BA= .270 HR= 18 RBI= 80

Rightfield

Brandon Moss

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?

A Deeper Look Inside…..RYAN DOUMIT

doumit.jpgMr. Doumit has really broken onto the scene in the off-season. With the starting job in hand Doumit has had a solid spring and has even acted as a mentor to the younger backstops in the organiztion. A lot of weight is on this guys shoulders. He is expected to produce and be a solid core for the future of this team. His contract and bobble head night prove what the front office expects and I’m sure the Moses Lake, Washington native will not dissapoint.

While Ryan is recieving a lot of honor and respect from the Pittsburgh are he is alos catching fire nationwide. Many baseball publications list him in the top five of fantasy catchers. A solid pick as he definately has th enumbers to back up his praises. Last season, Doumit batted a solid .318 in his first semi full season. In 116 games he had a batting average of .318, leading all National League catchers and drove in 69 RBI. His 15 home runs also provided ample power out of the catching position.

 

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 With as many accolades as this guy has recieved, he also holds down his share of drawbacks.

Plain and simple he is a liability. He is injury prone and kind of soft behind the plate. He suffered a broken thumb last season missing some crucial games for the Pirates. He would have contended for the batting title had he been healthy through the course of the whole season.

Ryan has also earned himself a catchy nickname. “No Mit-Doumit” is a name that has floated around PNC Park since Doumit was first toutued as a top prospect in the organization. He does need to work on his defense behind the plate, but what catcher doesn’t. It is the hardest position to play in baseball and even the greats like Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza were never known for their defensive brilliance.

Ryan can also improve on the way he handles the pitchers. While he is a persoanble guy and known to be the clubhouse clown his game management skills can use a minor fine tuning. When Ronny Paulino was here it seemed that he could connect to the pitchers and call a good game behind the plate. Doumit needs to follow in Paulino’s footsteps and settle down our pitchers because by God they will need all the confidence they can get.

Doumit is no longer a prospect as he is enetring into his prime. As a 28 year old Doumit has a lot of weight placed atop his shoulders. He needs to prove he can stay healthy and put in a great offensive and defensive performance night in and night out (or a lot of fantasy managers will claim he is the biggest bust in history). I have confidence in the guy, just as I have confidence in this whole team.

 
 
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 Doumit also has to be able to handle the role of being a fan favorite. Jack Wilson knows how to handle it as he has been here for his entire career and has been used to the limelight. Upon signing his new contract Doumit is going to have to be the funny, personable guy throughout the course of his career.

Doumit is even garnering fans from outside the Pittsburgh community. One of my roommates Jared, is a die hard Indians fan but is the biggest Doumit supporter I know. Since his “Inside Pirates Baseball” appearance as a mere rookie Jared identified with Ryan’s free spirit and carefree attitude.

My other friend Andrew drafted Doumit in our fantasy laegaue. Andrew is an Orioles fan but chose Doumit as the first catcher picked. He is ready for Doumit to “tear it up.” 

As the Pirate fan I am also ready for Ryan to tear it up. As a top 10 prospect a few years ago I have been waiting for Ryan to give a full season in the ‘Burgh. I’m confident he will blossom into the full player we have all hoped he could be. 2009 is his year to prove the Ryan Time begins now.

1. face photo-pirates.mlb.com

2. catching photo- pirates.mlb.com

3. batting photo-buccowire.blogspot.com 

Gettin my baseball fix a week early

Tuesday March 31,st was a beautiful day in Morgantown, West Virginia. 65 degress with the sun shining; not a clous in the sky.

Walking around the quaint campus of WVU was very pleasant as everyone was in their shorts and shades taking in a perfect outdoors day.

Now personally I am waiting on pins and needle for opening day next week. Although the Bucs open up on the road I am still pumped to turn to FSN Pittsburgh at 4:00 pm for the first game of the season. But with such a beautiful day out there I needed some live baseball.

At 4 o’clock yesterday the WVU baseball team was in action against Duquesne. The Dukes made the trip down I-79 in a scaled dow version of the “backyard brawl” it was a great game.

As the baseball beat writer for the WVU student newspaper “Daily Athenaeum” I had to be in attendance, taking notes on the game and getting post game interviews with the players. I really don’t even consider it a job because it is just an amzaing feeling to be around my favorite sport, especially on such a beautiful day.

So me and a few buddies sat in the uncomfortable metal bleachers, chewing and spitting sunflower seeds watching some Division one NCAA baseball.

My media privelages allow me to sit in the press box but I chose to sit out amongst the fans and enjoy the old fashioned baseball game.

As part of my old fashioned as chose to keep score.

replay_2.jpgRemember this? It’s a lost art of the game. It’s very fun and allows you to pay attention to the game with great interest. Some of my friends don’t understand the game of baseball and claim that its just too boring. Keeping score gives you a better appreciation of the game. It’s cool to see what the players have done throughout the course of the game. It allows the casual fan of the game to become a scout in their own right.

But back to the WVU game. The Mountaineers took the game 7-5. It was a lot closer than it needed to be. Costly errors by West Virginia in fifth inning allowed the Dukes to score three runs.

West Virginia has opened a lot of eyes this season. The Mountaineers earned their 19th win on Tuesday and sit atop the Big East Conference standings with a league record of 5-1.

Enourato33109.jpg Chris Enourato, pictured on the left, is the team’s closer and is automatic in save situations. Enourato faced six Duquesne batters and struck out four in yesterdays game. He holds the WVU record for career saves with 15 and he will keep adding on to that total as the season progresses.

Enourato is just a junior but has a legitimate shot at making a big league draft spot.

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Shortstop Jedd Gyorko is a natural hitter with a smooth swing. He has been a sprkplug for the Mountaineers all season. On Tuesday he went 0-4 with two strikeouts. Every player has an off day and Gyorko will look to shake off the funk in today’s game against Ohio University.

 

Today (Wednesday) has been a polar opposite from yesterday. It’s still warm but the storm clouds have moved in over the University city. The tarp is out on the field but it is unlikely the Mountaineers will play in their game schduled for 5pm.

The Mountaineers are on pace for a very exciting second half of the season. They’ll be fighting for the Big East Championship and the right to earn a spot in the College World Series in Omaha.

With all the talk of the Mountaineers its easy to forget that the big day is just 5 days away.

PIRATES-CARDINALS ON MONDAY

WVU photos are property of msnsportsnet.com

scorecard pic was found on alexreisner.com and was taken from an Angles-Red Sox game  

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