PITTSBURGH - MAY 23: Steve Pearce #51 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a ball to first base during the game against the Atlanta Braves on May 23, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Bucs beat Atlanta today on Ryan Doumit's walkoff homer to right off Takashi Saito. The Pirates took a 2-1 lead into the eighth, thanks in part to a second consecutive great start by Zach Duke, but Evan Meek allowed a solo homer to Eric Hinske to tie the score. It was the first homer--and only the third earned run--Meek has allowed all year. Octavio Dotel picked up the win despite allowing two walks in the ninth.
Steve Pearce had another nice game, with a single, a walk and a sacrifice fly. (Which isn't a huge game, I admit, but the single and walk stood out because they game in the first several innings of the game, when the rest of the Pirates' offense wasn't doing much of anything.) So far he's walked in about 20% of his plate appearances, and he has a .405 OBP after his first handful of games. Even though his best skill as a batter is hitting lefties, John Russell had him out there against Kris Medlen, a righty. Some of that is surely Russell not really understanding (or caring about?) how platoon advantages work, but I think we're also going to see a lot of Pearce (and even less of Jeff Clement) in the coming weeks.
Oh, and Akinori Iwamura somehow got two hits in this one. And one of them was a double!
In the minors, Indianapolis lost to Gwinnett 6-3. Donnie Veal pitched brilliantly for a while, then ran into trouble in the middle innings and finished with five innings pitched, three runs, six strikeouts and four walks. Altoona won 2-1 on yet another excellent start by Justin Wilson, who has quietly been terrific the last few weeks. Bradenton beat Clearwater 2-0 on six innings of shutout ball by Nathan Adcock, who might be the talk of Pirates prospect hounds if Bryan Morris hadn't upstaged him. In any case, Adcock is dominating the Florida State League and should probably be moved up soon. Also in the Bradenton game, Tony Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a double. West Virginia lost to Lakewood 3-0.
There's been a pretty clear pattern in the minors these last few weeks--the pitching prospects have continued to post excellent, or even brilliant, numbers, with Adcock, Wilson, Morris, Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke and Diego Moreno leading the way. Many of the hitters, though, have descended into oblivion. Robbie Grossman got off to a hot start but hasn't done anything at all this month; Starling Marte is out with a hand injury; Quincy Latimore turned out to be a mirage; Chase D'Arnaud has been in a funk all year; and no one at West Virginia is really hitting much. There have been some bright spots, like Sanchez, Neil Walker and Brock Holt, but overall the Pirates' young hitters have been disappointing.