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Cubs 10, Pirates 8

If you didn't happen to have a five-hour block of time free to watch the home opener today, here's what you missed:

-P- Tom Gorzelanny giving up seven runs.

-P- The Bucs coming all the way back from a seven run deficit.

-P- More terrible fielding by Ronny Paulino and Luis Rivas.

-P- Zach Duke pinch hitting. 

-P- An extremely weird play in which Brian Bixler, pinch-running for Ryan Doumit with one out in the ninth and representing the winning run, failed to run home on Jose Bautista's bunt. Bautista was thrown out, Bixler was stuck on third, and the game went into extra innings. It was a ridiculously silly, bush league play that must've involved either Bautista unilaterally deciding to bunt or a sign being missed by Bautista, Bixler or the third base coach.

-P- Evan Meek pitching with the game on the line, and it was every bit as glorious as you might imagine. It was the 12th inning, and since Gorzelanny had been run out of the game in the 3rd, John Russell had gone through all his relievers. (It's impossible to blame him for that, of course.) Meek allowed five walks in that one inning (two of them intentional). Meek allowed the final run by walking in Mark DeRosa with the bases loaded.

The rest of the 'pen was generally very good today, and it's hard to fault the rookie Meek for flopping with the game on the line, but five walks is just embarrassing. I fully expect to read a report in a couple hours saying that Meek has been waived and the Bucs have recalled Sean Burnett or someone else from Indianapolis. It's only been a week, but I'm afraid we've seen enough. You expect a certain number of mistakes from an inexperienced employee, but not an infinite number. If the new hire in the sales department at your office seemed like a really nice guy but crapped all over the copier and attempted to communicate with clients only in Esperanto, you wouldn't chalk his problems up to experience, but rather to an inability to do the job.

There are several other guys on the team who aren't pulling their weight either. Some of them (like Adam LaRoche and Damaso Marte) are obviously far too good to just dismiss, but Luis Rivas, in particular, is not. His defense was bad yet again today, and I can't begin to imagine how the Pirates' management thought he was good enough to play shortstop in the bigs. If they were thinking his good hitting in Spring Training was for real, that doesn't absolve them either; Rivas is just awful. (To be fair, he's hitting .318 so far this year. But that won't last.)

By the way, sorry to continue to harp on this, if you stunk at your job as much as Rivas stinks at his, would you wear flamboyantly ugly clothes to your workplace? I wouldn't; I'd want to fit in as much as possible. But still Rivas has the shoes. 

Of course, getting rid of Rivas would be an easier decision if Bixler's performance in the bigs so far didn't consist solely of the aforementioned weird play and an "Oh, I'm supposed to try to hit?" strikeout in yesterday's game. The Bucs would do well, in my opinion, to sign a real glove-first middle infielder (maybe Royce Clayton could be lured out of retirement, and yes, I'm serious) to man the bench while Bixler tries to play every day. 

In any case, this was a loss, but, as Bolton put it in the epic GameThread, "At least they're losing in interesting ways."