Game 7 – An Ugly Win, but a Win

Ole’ Gator of the PLG was openly happy about having to turn his leather cheerleaders around en route to Pittsburgh when he said: "They won, huh? I figured we would scare a win out them."

Maybe they scared Ken Griffey more than they scared the Pirates because Griffey single-handedly served up a win to the Pirates on a silver platter Sunday by missing a fairly routine fly ball and then two plays later double clutching a throw from short center field to the plate trying to nail the slowest runner on the Pirates team – Jeromy Burnitz. Those two runs ended up being the difference as the lethargic Pirates finally won their first game of the year.

Maybe I am reading too much into the game but I don’t think I have ever seen Griffey Jr. miss a fly ball like he did today. Nor have I ever seen him double-clutch a throw to the plate, much less from short center with a whale on 3B. Oh well, maybe the Baseball Gods finally felt sorry for us. We really didn’t earn the win the way we played.

Santos pitched a great game but any junk thrower that keeps the ball down on the Reds will pitch a good game against them. To Santos credit, his fork ball was dipping and cutting unlike I have ever seen from him. He pitched aggressive too, getting ahead in most of the counts. That is not typical Santos either but he knew he was facing a team that sit on fastballs. He had an easier day than he’ll see next week.

A few things caught my eye this game.

0-7 in RISP opportunities again tonight plus our first two sacrifice flies.

This will probably be talked about in the paper and that was Jack Wilson’s hustle backing up Randa after a liner almost took his head off and went off his glove. Jack quickly went to the ball and then threw out Womack trying to score from second base. Why in the world the Reds sent Womack there with only one out is beyond me but they did.

Another was the fact that Colborn went to the mound after Santos walked his second batter in the 5th inning. I felt Santos ended up walking Hatteburg because he was paying too much attention to Encarncion at 1B instead of trying to get the batter. He simply lost his concentration. He wasn’t pitching poorly – he just all of a sudden decided to worry too much about the wrong thing. I felt Colborn should have been out there to talk to Santos after the second ball to Encarncion instead of waiting for the walk to happen. But it ended up fine as 6 pitches later the inning was over.

If I’m not mistaken, this was the first game where a Pirate starter got through the first inning on less than 19 pitches. Santos threw just 13. We’ll have to watch this little known fact in future games.

I was a bit disappointed in Jason Bay when he fielded a Griffey liner in the gap in the 8th inning. Not only did he casually run to the ball, he threw a high looper to the cut-off man which allowed Lopez to score from first base. A little more aggressiveness there would have held that runner at 3B easily because Lopez got a slow jump on the hit not knowing if it would be caught.

Somebody needs to tell Chris Duffy when to bunt – or, someone needs to instruct 3B coach Cox or manager Jim Tracy when to have Duffy bunt. Chris came to bat in the 3rd and 5th innings with no outs and Santos on first base each time. Not once did Duffy attempt a sacrifice bunt to move Santos over and ended up K’ing one at bat and hitting a fly ball the other – neither of which moved Santos one inch. Then in the 7th with Freddy on first base and no outs, he attempts a bunt. The bunt went foul but he ended up stroking a double scoring Freddy. I swear I remember Jim Tracy stating in spring training that moving runners forward would be a goal this season?

Mike Gonzalez was just plain horrible. The line card might show three K’s but 12 of 27 pitches he threw were balls, he walked the first batter he saw in the inning, he got two breaks on Dunn when he tossed two balls that were called strikes, either one of which could have walked Dunn, and one pitch to Encarncion was a ball that should have been a walk as well.

The ump had both Dunn and Encarncion so confused, both men struck out swinging wildly at pitches in the dirt that would have been ball 4. But that, of course, is also Gonzo’s trademark. Overall, Mike could have easily walked the bases loaded and, with Griffey’s double, the Reds would have been right in the game if Hatteberg or Kearns had gotten a single. He was very lucky.

It was an ugly win but a win all the same. We have had some ugly losses recently so an ugly win doesn’t bother me. Hopefully we go to PNC with a new attitude because we are not playing well at all. One of the biggest concerns I have is that 20 of the 36 runs we have scored have been from home runs hit and we are not going to see the ball leave PNC like we did at Great American or Miller.

Another concern on Monday is that this will be Zach’s first opening day starting assignment. Zach is a quick tempo pitcher and all the pre-game waiting around just might zap his energy some after a few innings of work. We’ll have to watch how that turns out. The Dodgers limp in 3-3 with 25% of their 25-man on the DL.

Read some Dodger blogs about the upcoming series and Jim Tracy in general:

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