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Pittsburgh vs. Houston, 3 April 2007

UPDATE: Brad Lincoln is out for the season. See the post below this thread.


Ian Snell vs. Jason Jennings.

This is Jennings' Astros debut after coming over in a trade from the Rockies this offseason. He only faced the Bucs once last year, when Joe Randa and the Bucs lit him up en route to a 6-5 Pirates win on July 19. Jennings doesn't throw hard, but he changes speeds well and keeps the ball on the ground.

I'll be blogging this game a little bit too, probably a little more lightly than yesterday.

Here's the box score. It's the same lineup as yesterday for the Bucs. Phil Garner got the message about not putting Adam Everett in the second spot in the Astros order; Chris Burke is there. Jason Lane starts in right.

8:09 Ouch, Chris Duffy just struck out on a Jennings slider that dipped way out of the zone.

8:11 An uneventful inning for Jennings, who only needs eight pitches to retire Duffy, Jack Wilson and Jason Bay. Liveblogging is difficult because if you make yourself comment on little details, you tend to see patterns that may not actually matter much. But every time the Pirates have an offensive inning like that last one, I can't help but think I'm going to see about a thousand more like it by the end of the year.

8:15 Oh yeah, Snell looks good striking out leadoff man Craig Biggio. The fastball is fast, and the breaking ball really is breaking.

8:18 Lance Berkman just hit a ball about 425 feet to straightaway center field; luckily, it stayed in the park. Has anyone ever gotten hurt on that ridiculous patch of sloping grass back there?

8:20 Is anyone watching this on MLB.TV? Wow, is that bouncing baseball/screensaver thing annoying.

8:22 Wow, Adam LaRoche just struck out for the fifth time in a row.

8:25 That's a towering homer by Xavier Nady into left field. He's got two. Pirates lead, 1-0. Nady is now tied for the league lead in homers, I think.

8:32 Ian Snell has now struck out three batters in less than two innings. He isn't placing his breaking ball all that precisely, but the Astros still look flummoxed.

8:34 Snell just struck out Jason Lane to end the inning. Four strikeouts in two innings. Excellent.

8:41 Jennings strikes out the side. Between them, the two pitchers have nine strikeouts in five innings.

8:44 Everett doubles down the line. He's trying to make me look bad for making fun of him.

8:47 9th hitter Jennings' career OPS: .544. Brad Ausmus' 2006 OPS: .593. Yes, Jennings probably should bat ninth, but the decision maybe shouldn't be as automatic as you'd think it'd be. Snell got them both, but Jennings did at least manage to get some pretty good wood on the ball.

8:48 Snell strikes out Biggio to end the inning. He's got six K's through three innings.

8:51 Wilson doubles down the line and looks downright quick sprinting to second.

8:52 Wow, was that a risky play Wilson just made tagging up to third on a LaRoche fly ball, but he made it. Also, LaRoche didn't strike out. Progress!

8:54 And Paulino hits into a double play. Eh.

8:58 Wow. Snell is just filthy. He gets Burke looking on a slider. That's seven.

9:01 Another nasty slider to get Carlos Lee. That's eight in four innings. Wow is this fun to watch.

9:07 Jose Castillo hits a two-run single to left. The announcers now are talking about Brad Lidge. I know Lidge had his troubles last year, but I feel bad for him for screwing up the opener. If he'd recorded the save last night and then struggled tonight, I don't think he'd have received half as much attention.

9:11 Morgan Ensberg goes down. That's nine through four and a third. If you're not watching this, you're missing out.

9:11 Jason Lane hits a solo homer to left. 1-1.

9:15 Snell records his tenth strikeout to finish the inning, tying a career high.

9:17 Duffy, leading off in the sixth, hits a seeing-eye single.

9:26 Despite just walking against Jennings, LaRoche really doesn't look like he knows what he's doing out there. Duffy stays at third after Wilson and Bay's groundball outs moved him up.

9:28 Oh, great slider by Jennings to strike out Paulino. That's seven punchouts for him in six innings. This is quite a pitchers duel. Still 1-1 in the middle of the sixth.

9:30 Jennings is done after six. He only threw 87 pitches and was still looking good, so it seems like he could have gone longer. Our gain. Orlando Palmeiro hits a single pinch hitting for him, though.

9:34 Snell sets a career high by striking out Biggio again for his 11th K of the evening.

9:37 Snell intentionally walks Berkman after Palmeiro advances on a grounder. Men on first and second with two outs for Carlos Lee. This is an important moment.

9:38 Lee singles on a Texas Leaguer; the Astros take the lead. That wasn't Snell's fault; it was an inside pitch that Lee hit weakly. Maybe Snell should have been further from the plate on that pitch, but that really wasn't far from what he should have been doing.

9:43 Snell gets out of the inning with no further damage. Chad Qualls is the new pitcher for the Astros.

9:44 Jose Bautista singles with one out. If Castillo doesn't hit into a double play here, that's probably it for Snell.

9:45 Yeah. Castillo grounds out, but Bautista advances; Nate McLouth pinch hits. Just a fantastic game for Snell. Maybe Pat's insult had something to do with it? That's a good tradition to start, I think.

9:51 John Wasdin is now pitching with the game on the line. This wasn't what I had in mind when I learned that Wasdin was going to be on the roster. If you'd told me two weeks ago that Don Kelly and Wasdin would ever be playing for the Pirates in important situations, I'd have reacted with shock, but here are Kelly and Wasdin, playing in close and late situations in the first two games of the season.

9:55 Nice throw by Paulino to gun down Everett to record the second out in the seventh. Brad Ausmus is at the plate; Wasdin is probably in the clear.

9:58 Never mind. Ausmus singles, and Juan Perez relieves Wasdin.

10:02 Perez gives up a single to Mike Lamb, and here comes Jonah Bayliss. I'd forgotten how hard Perez throws, maybe because he's a scrub.

10:05 Bayliss cleans up Wasdin and Perez's mess by recording the final out of the inning. I know Bayliss pitched last night, but I don't really understand why you don't just bring him in at the beginning of the inning so that you don't put your team in so much danger and so that you can wait to do the LOOGY dance until the next inning.

10:08 Dan Wheeler comes in to face Chris Duffy.

10:10 With one out, Jack Wilson reaches on a bunt single. Alert play by Wilson. Jason Bay is up. This is probably the Pirates' best chance of tying the game.

10:13 Bay walks. Nice. Let's see if LaRoche can do something here.

10:17 Nothing doing for LaRoche, but Paulino singles, bringing home Wilson. Tie game!

10:21 And the Pirates grab the league on a bloop single by Nady. The Pirates came from behind yesterday with homers; tonight, it's singles and a walk.

10:28 Matt Capps comes in to pitch the eighth and records the first out.

10:33 Hey, it's our old friend Rick White, on to pitch the top of the ninth for the Astros.

10:39 White pitches a 1-2-3 inning, and Salomon Torres will face Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane and Adam Everett.

10:42 Good play by Bautista to get Ensberg. Two outs to go.

10:44 Torres retires Lane; Luke Scott will pinch hit for Everett. Some fans in Houston are booing that decision for some reason. I have no idea what that's about.

10:46 And as Scott grounds out to first, that'll do it - the Bucs win again! The pitching won this game for Pittsburgh. Bucs hurlers (well, mostly just Ian Snell) struck out twelve batters and walked only one, and that one was intentional. You'll win a lot of games if you can do that.