The really bad thing about this game is that the Bucs had to use every functional arm in their bullpen to get through eleven innings, so they need either a dominant starting pitching performance or a blowout tonight to avoid the risk of Donnie Veal or Craig Hansen pitching in a close game. And tomorrow, as my friend pointed out at the game last night, they face Jake Peavy. So last night's loss could be a costly one.
Before yesterday I was getting ready to say that while these Pirates aren't going to be a contending team, or even a .500 team, I believe in them a lot more than I believe in past editions, because they do basic things like catch the ball and throw strikes, which previous Buc teams never seemed to be able to do. Most of the games the Pirates have won last year haven't felt like cheap wins that happened just because the other team did something dumb.
Last night, though, they were tough to watch. Not Ronny-Paulino-bungling-plays-at-the-plate or Freddy-Sanchez-lollipopping-throws-to-first tough to watch, but still--Ian Snell wasn't razor-sharp, Jack Wilson dropped a ball hit right at him, and then there was this beauty:
Pittsburgh - Top of 9th
N Morgan reached on infield single to second. J Wilson bunt popped out foul to catcher. N Morgan picked off first.
Really nice work there, guys. Morgan got picked off after about a hundred throws to first, too--it wasn't like the attempt should have surprised him. Morgan's a more valuable baserunner than your typical station-to-station guy, obviously, but fans who get excited when he makes his way around the bases with an error and a steal and a groundout always forget about moments like this one, where the Bucs' focus on getting him around the bases cost them not one but two outs.
If there was any positive development in this game, it was that Jesse Chavez entered the game with the score tied in the sixth and recorded four straight outs. I don't think he threw anything but fastballs, and that might catch up with him if it continues, but for right now I feel safer with him out there than I do with anyone else except Matt Capps (who, ironically, took the loss last night) and John Grabow.