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Pirates 8, Cubs 4

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Very good game today. A few notes:

-P- As some of us were saying in the comments, it's really nice when the middle of your order hits like Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit did today. It's nice to have a man or two on base and feel like there's some chance we're actually going to get them home.

-P- If both the runners he left to Shawn Chacon hadn't scored, Paul Maholm would've had his fourth quality start in his last five starts. He's also pitched at least seven innings in his last five starts and has struck out at least five batters in four out of five of those starts. I find Maholm to be incredibly boring to watch, but if he can keep piling up grounders and strikeouts like he's done recently, he's going to be fine. It's pretty great to have a third reliable starter for the first time this year.

-P- I'll go ahead and say that one of the runs the Cubs scored in the third was partly Doumit's fault. (The other runsprobably would have scored anyway.) After Rob Bowen doubled, Jason Marquis bunted and Doumit seemed to shout at Maholm to throw to third, where he ended up being well behind the runner. Then Bowen scored, and Marquis came home on a wild pitch.

I'm sure this series of events gave Jim Tracy heartburn or something, but let's keep a couple of things in mind:

  1. There was no way Ronny Paulino would have stopped that wild pitch - let's be serious here. In fact, Doumit distinguished himself from Paulino simply by making an effort to stop it.
  2. The really nice thing about playing Doumit behind the plate is that even when he has a bad game defensively, as he did tonight, there's a good chance he'll make up for it with the bat. Which he did tonight, by singling, doubling, walking, scoring two runs and driving one in. If you don't let Doumit catch, that usually means that Nady has to sit. If you'd replaced one of those two guys in the lineup with Paulino tonight, you'd have probably had a much closer game.
-P- I'm presenting this without comment, but look: even before tonight's game, Shawn Chacon has allowed more inherited runners to score, as compared to what we'd expect, than any other Pirate reliever. Tonight's game isn't going to help that. He's far from being the worst reliever in baseball in that regard, but I checked because I felt like there had been an awful lot of games recently where Chacon cane in with runners on, let them score, but didn't get charged with any earned runs of his own.