Do you like it when the Pirates score runs? Games like these can make you wonder whether John Russell does. It appeared the third base umpire tonight wanted the Pirates to score more than Russell did. (At least the ump called Ryan Doumit safe on a play in which he appeared to be out.) On your way home after a game like this one, you may have found yourself wondering whether Russell actively dislikes runs or is merely ambivalent toward them. If someone gave Russell some runs for his birthday, you might think, would he take them and use them, even though he would've preferred, say, a shower radio? If Russell were at a restaurant and the waiter brought a big plate of runs he hadn't ordered, would he send them back because he ordered the shrimp? Tough questions!
This was maybe the most frustrating win the Pirates have had all season. Despite some solid performances--from Zach Duke and the finally-hot Adam LaRoche in particular, and there were some great plays in the outfield by Doug Mientkiewicz and Nate McLouth--I don't feel like the Pirates deserved to collect a win here.
Jack Wilson got caught stealing twice in embarrassing fashion, once on what appeared to be a busted hit-and-run. Freddy Sanchez attempted a bunt with two strikes, lunging at a ball way out of the strike zone and completely failing to get it anywhere near fair territory. He then looked at third base coach Tony Beasley as he walked back to the dugout, as if he didn't understand why Beasley had made the call, or perhaps was confused as to whether the call was made in the first place. Then in the ninth, Wilson tried to bunt Chris Gomez over and got Gomez thrown out at second.
Yeah, all that stuff in the first paragraph is just grousing, and in the grand scheme it's nitpicking, and yeah, I'm still pretty happy with Russell for recognizing that McLouth and Doumit are major-league regulars, and yeah, that's a heck of a lot more important than any of this is. But it's still annoying to have to watch plays like the ones described above, and with Russell they happen fairly frequently.
Incidentally, Romulo Sanchez picked up his first big league save with a shaky, one-run 11th inning. If Sanchez manages to catch on with the Pirates, it'll be interesting to see whether the fans take to him, because he could inspire a sort of Nyjer Morgan debate. Sanchez, like Morgan, will probably end up being an exciting player but not a very good one. Sanchez's basic game is to throw fastballs really, really hard, often up in the zone. That will generate some awesome-looking strikeouts from time to time, but it will probably also generate a bunch of 470-foot blasts. Jerry Hairston drove in a run off Sanchez tonight on one high fastball that made me glad it was only Jerry Hairston up there. He hit it hard, but it only went for a single; many of the Reds' hitters would have knocked it at least 400 feet. My sense is that fans will be less forgiving of Sanchez than they were of Morgan, because Sanchez's failures will be at least as glaring as his successes.