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Brewers 7, Pirates 4: Bucs Drop 17th Consecutive Game Against Milwaukee

The Bucs grabbed an early lead in this one off a suddenly-hittable Yovani Gallardo with an RBI triple by Brandon Moss and a homer by Andy LaRoche that smacked the left-field foul pole. When those two events happened, any Bucs fan could be forgiven for wondering how the Pirates could've possibly lost. After all, it was only Moss' third RBI and Luigi's first homer--the gods had to be on Pittsburgh's side, right?

Well, no. Paul Maholm looked great the entire evening, locating his pitches well, throwing nifty breaking balls and racking up strikeouts and ground balls. He left the game with one out and a man on in the eighth. Flood Gates Yates shockingly faced a batter without allowing a walk. But then John Grabow allowed two batters to reach base and gave up a two-out double to Ryan Braun that tied the game. Jason Jaramillo put the Pirates ahead with an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning. (It was Jaramillo's second double of the game; remarkably, seven of his 39 at bats have been doubles.)

And then... Matt Capps. Capps allowed four runs on a couple of singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly, and a three-run jack by Rickie Weeks. It was Capps' second meltdown in three days, which will really get you if you're a reliever--he could be dominant the rest of the year and still be fighting to get that ERA down. It's entirely possible that he'll run off a streak of great outings for the next month and this blowup will be forgotten everywhere but in Capps' stat line, but for now, he has an ERA of 7.56. Before the season, if you'd asked me to list the Bucs' relievers from most reliable to least reliable, I probably would've said something like this:

Capps, Grabow, Yates, Chavez, Burnett, Hansen, Veal

...And if I'd written that, some of you might've chimed in to endorse Burnett over Chavez, but that's about it. Everything else is straightforward. Today, though? Hansen is gone for the time being and Veal is still down at the bottom, but based on what's happened so far, it might go

Grabow, Chavez, Burnett, Meek, Capps, Yates, Veal 

...With Meek and Veal getting docked a bit for all their walks. Grabow has been fine (despite his struggles today and the fact that he hasn't done a good job preventing inherited runners from scoring), Chavez and Burnett have been surprisingly good, and Capps and Yates have been disastrous. There's not much sense worrying about small sample sizes, but my sense is that Capps will recover and Yates will not. If either of them continue to struggle, Chavez will start seeing some more high-leverage innings. He's already starting to, but my sense is that we'll be seeing him more in the seventh and eighth. It'll be interesting to see how the league reacts to seeing him a few times--he's already adjusted some by adding more breaking balls than he was throwing a few weeks ago.

This has been a surprisingly long tangent. But here are the basics.

Maholm = good

Pirates = can't beat Brewers

Bullpen = ???