It's always tough to lose a game and have an inside-the-park home run hit against you, but this one was more of an accident of fate than any terrible mistake made by the Pirates. Seth Smith's homer was more like a garden-variety double, with Nate McLouth well positioned to handle it. The problem was that the ball took an incredibly weird bounce off the bottom of the wall and went skittering across center field. By the time the Pirates were able to get the ball in from the outfield, Smith had scored easily.
The bad stuff that cost the Pirates the game happened earlier. The Rockies stole three bases. On one of those, Ryan Doumit's throw and Freddy Sanchez's tag were in time and the runner was plainly out but was called safe anyway. On the other two, Doumit just didn't make very good throws. And so we had Willy Taveras scoring the post-millennial version of a Rickey Run--he walked, stole second (that was the one where he should have been the third out), stole third and scampered home when Doumit's throw wound up in the outfield.
And before that, Ian Snell allowed two runs in the first inning, following a pattern that has become all too familiar to Pirates fans. Snell has actually been better about that than some Pirates' starters, but there's still a problem--including the two runs today, he now has 13 first inning runs allowed in 19 starts.
And in the meantime, the offense couldn't get it going against Glendon Rusch. The lefty-pelting Xavier Nady would've helped, but you'd still hope the Bucs would do better than this against Glendon Rusch at Coors Field.
A couple notes from around the league:
Fox Sports reported yesterday that the Pirates scouted a minor league game involving David Price, the pitcher who was the No. 1 overall draft pick last year by Tampa Bay. Price is not available, but others on Class AA Montgomery might be. The Rays are one of three teams known to be deeply interested in outfielder Xavier Nady, along with the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, and the Rays are deeper in prospects than the other two.
The idea that Price isn't available is consistent with other things I've read, but if the Pirates weren't scouting Price, then who were they scouting? The Biscuits' best prospects besides Price (Jeremy Hellickson, James Houser and the injured Jacob McGee) are all starting pitchers who obviously didn't pitch the same day Price did, and literally none of the Biscuits' position players are good prospects. If the FOX Sports report (which you can read here) is accurate, then my guess--and it's just a guess--is that the Pirates were scouting the young Cuban reliever Eduardo Morlan, who the Rays acquired from the Twins in the Delmon Young deal last offseason. Or maybe another reliever, Ryan Reid. Those are the only names that really make sense to me. Morlan's velocity is way down from last year, when he looked like a high-i mpact reliever. Reid's a short righty who's never been regarded as much of a prospect before. I don't really know what the Pirates are looking for down there. I wouldn't want either of those guys as the centerpiece of a deal.
-P- Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus discusses the possibility that the Pirates will trade Jason Bay to the Braves, perhaps for one of these Dan Haren-style grab-bag deals, in this case headlined by outfielder Brandon Jones and pitcher Tommy Hanson. I'm not impressed. Jones, as Sheehan notes, is a low-upside guy, and with Andrew McCutchen coming through the system, the Bucs don't have any particular need for a low-upside replacement for Bay. I'd like to have a hulking youngster like Hanson in the Pirates' system, but the Bucs would need to do a lot better than just him, so if he's coming over with Jones, the Pirates would need to get at least one other really good prospect too.
-P- Erik Bedard probably won't pitch again until after the deadline, rendering unlikely the already-pathetic possibility that the Mariners could flip him to a contender for way less than they paid for him. At 37-58, the M's are the worst team in the American League. I feel pretty good about my assessment of their offseason. Of course, I've completely missed on the White Sox so far.
-P- Via Primer, I had no idea about Royals closer Joakim Soria's awesome nickname, which is "The Mexicutioner." I bet the honchos at the WWE are kicking themselves for not having thought up that character first. By the way, you may not have noticed, but Soria is pretty amazing. He's no Josh Hamilton, but he's still one of the best Rule 5 picks of recent years.