The Pirates got a bunch of offense in this game--more, perhaps, than their five-run total makes it look. Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche picked up two hits apiece, and Andy LaRoche had a walk, an RBI, and a double.
Brian Bixler looked absolutely clueless at the plate, though, striking out four times, and the pitching was downright ugly--Jeff Karstens allowed five runs and three homers in five innings, and while Jesse Chavez (who actually threw some breaking balls today!) and Evan Meek got through their innings unscathed, Tyler Yates and John Grabow combined to give up five runs in the eighth inning. All told, the Pirates surrendered eight walks and two hit batsmen, and while their were explanations for some of those (Karstens' pelting of Ryan Braun appeared to be intentional, Grabow's walk of Braun was definitely intentional, and Chavez's lone walk came after a couple of very close pitches), it still added up to an ugly, and lengthy, display. Yates, in particular, has just been horrible this year, and today he couldn't find the plate even after trying to take a couple MPH off his fastball to do so.
Oh well--this might have been a winnable game if not for the bullpen's implosion, but when you have Jeff Karstens out there every fifth day, things like this are simply going to happen. I can stand the occasional ugly game from Karstens if he gets through five innings and promises he'll make it up to me next time.
Things got pretty heated after the Braun HBP, by the way--Braun seemed to be angry only at Karstens, and he appeared to have a friendly conversation with LaRoche when he got to first, but the next two games of this series could be interesting.
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A couple of administrative notes while I have your attention:
-P- Traffic here at Bucs Dugout has more than doubled since last April, which means that our game threads are becoming more populated. Today's had 386 comments as of this writing. This is great and I hope this continues. When it does, though, I'm going to close gamethreads at around 300 comments and create overflow threads where you can continue discussion. This way we'll avoid crazy load times. I would have done this today, but I wanted to give notice that we'll be doing that in the future.
-P- In general, I'm pretty hands-off about moderating the discussion here, and I'm certainly no prude. There are, however, a couple things I won't stand for. I'd rather you didn't use profanity because I do want this to be a family site, but I generally won't delete it because I don't want to stifle conversation. If you go way over the line, though, your comment may be removed. You know what I mean--anything unusually vivid, pornographic, or gross.
Also, I will remove anything I judge to be sexist or homophobic (or racist, although racism fortunately hasn't been a problem). This includes any comment that attempts to emasculate a player or a poster by making them sound feminine. I know that's a very locker-room thing to do, but we're just not going to have that here. I've been lax about that in the past, but no more.
My policy has generally been to read everything in the gamethreads and scrub anything nasty, but it's reaching the point where that's not always possible. So I'll delete stuff where I can and take more draconian measures when things get out of hand. Please try to keep it civil so that I don't have to ban people.
-P- Please make some effort to get along with other posters. 99% of you do just fine in this area, but if you disagree with someone it's better to try to convince them rather than by just repeating the same point over and over or by trying to bait them.
And here's a hint: it's really, really early in the season, and most people here recognize that ten- or fifteen-game samples don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things. If you want to make an argument that cuts against a player's performance record before this year, you're welcome to do so and there might even be good reasons to do so, but you'll probably want to offer more evidence than just his stats from this year.