Maholm pitched a pretty good game until the sun left the field and then the Twins bats woke up a bit. In the 3rd inning Kubel takes him yard to leadoff the inning and two pitches later Tiffee goes yard too. Those were the first 2 hits of Maholm.
Obviously a bit shaken up, and not getting any support from Paulino or Colborn in the way of a walk to the mound to comfort the kid, Maholm gets the pitcher out in 3 pitches and then his lack of confidence starts to show as he fell behind the count on a 3-1 hammered GB to Jack, and then on a 2-0 pitch Maholm comes in to Bartlett who lines one to CF for a single. With Mauer at the plate, Bartlett takes off to try and steal 2B and Paulino throws him out. On the replay, Bartlett is safe and the Bucs got a call.
The rest of the game was all Maholm’s as he retired 7 straight after regaining his confidence and getting his sinker down in the zone. Then Marte gives up a solo home run on the 8th (just the 2cd allowed this year by Marte) and then the Pirates defensive circus act comes back to PNC in the 9th when Jose allows a simple groundball to go under his glove that would have been the third out. The next batter gets an rbi to take the Twins up by 2.
For the Pirates, Boof Bonser was on the mound for the Twins. He is a right-handed AAA pitcher who came into the game with an ERA near 6 in five games this year, averaging 17 pitches per inning, and while he had K’d 22 in 26 innings of work to his credit, he had also allowed opponents to wail him to the tune of a .341 BA when on the mound.
Boof quickly discards the first 7 Pirate batters like he is a Cy Young candidate. In the 3rd inning with the sun finally clearing off the field, the next 12 pitches Boof throws Castillo flies out, Paulino takes him yard, Maholm strokes a single, then Nate walks. Jack comes up to the plate with 2 men on and hits a little ground ball to SS for a DP to end the inning.
In the 4th inning and one out, Bay singles then steals 2B on Boof’s second pitch, and Burnitz hammers a double high off the right field wall.
Bay made it all the way to 3B. (*sarcasm intended*)
Sanchez then comes up and hits a broken bat flair into left-center that forces Bay to come home whether he wanted to or not and Burnitz follows him like a puppy dog. Two runs score. Freddy is at 1B. Jose gets an infield hit off of Boof’s reliever Kyle Lohse, and Freddy goes to 2B.
Up to the plate comes Paulino who hit the HR the previous inning.. Jose at 1B and Freddy at 2B and only one out. Ronny works the count to 3-2 and all of a sudden Freddy breaks on first pitcher movement toward 3B like he is a deer caught in headlights, Lohse turns and throws to 3B and Freddy is tagged out. Two pitches later, Paulino K’s. Inning over.
The very next inning – the 5th – with two outs, Jack Wilson hits a slow roller on the infield and beats it out. Casey comes to the plate and works the count to 1-2 over six pitches, fouling off a lot to stay alive. Next pitch Lohse stretches and Jack makes a startling move toward 2B, Lohse turns and picks him off at 1B. Inning over.
The next twelve Pirates batters are mowed down like a semi making road kill.
Maholm’s mistakes were that he allowed too many walks and pitched behind in the count too often. Kubel’s HR was off a 2-1 count where Maholm had to come in and Tiffee simply took advantage of Maholm’s breached confidence by swinging like a wild man on the second pitch he saw that went over the wall for his 4th career HR. Marte’s HR allowed was a heater up in the zone – a pitch I’m sure he would want back.
Offensively, we took ourselves out of the game with ridiculous running mistakes and nobody seeing the baseball off mainly AAA pitchers. It is almost like the Pirates streaky bats have gone silent once again. Bay’s last 2 at bats were both K’s and the second one he swung at a pitch at least a foot off the plate.. maybe more.
Pittsburgh’s media outlets (the organizational friendly types like the Post-Gazette) will probably not tell you about Freddy or Jack being picked off, or Jose’s error, or any of the other bad PR stuff. And Tracy will probably proclaim this to be a game where the Pirates fell ‘just big hit short’ of a win but, obviously, that wasn’t the case, although I guess he can say things like that about any game we lose, huh?
I have a feeling Sunday’s game is not going to be pretty.
— tidbits —
Sean Casey’s offensive production has declined steadily from his career numbers in the last couple months, as you can see above. His June numbers are just .268/.339/.339 over 15 games after coming off the DL. He says he is 100%, but if you read my blog, you know I have stressed he doesn’t look close to being 100%. Not even 75%. In Sean’s last 5 games, he is just 2-20 for a .100 BA.
There are rumors in the media that the Pirates are wanting to sign Casey to a three year deal at $18m. Some of the Moneyball sites list Casey’s value this year at about $7m so far, but I tend to think they are looking too heavily at his first few weeks than they are his last few. Without any clue as to Casey’s true physical condition, all I can do is go off what I see and what I see isn’t worth $6m per year over three years *unless* Littlefield has a trade partner lined up. His health is simply not good and Littlefield would be taking on too much risk, imo.
The Pirates announced Santos had a fingernail issue on the mound as we thought. Santos says he wants to pitch come Tuesday but I suspect we’ll see Littlefield let Wells come on back and throw Santos on the DL to make room for him. Just a guess.
I am hearing solid rumors that David Littlefield has a solid deal for Oliver Perez. I don’t know who it is to but I have heard the rumor from more than one source now. We’ll see what happens in the next week.