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Pirates' Rotation Struggling As Maholm Scuffles And Duke Hits DL

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If the Pirates are going to make it through the next couple of weeks without another 12-game losing streak, they need to avoid stuff like tonight's game, in which Paul Maholm allowed seven runs and didn't record an out in the second inning. He'd been their most reliable starter in a rotation that badly needed reliability, what with all the appearances by Charlie Morton and Dan McCutchen and Dana Eveland and Brian Burres. On top of that, we're going to be seeing even more of (at least one of) those guys, because Zach Duke just went on the DL and will miss his next couple of starts. And it's not even like some of the guys I actually want in the rotation, like Ross Ohlendorf and Brad Lincoln, have been all that good.

There was more bad news yesterday that was unrelated to the Bucs' problems in the majors - Tony Sanchez is having on his broken jaw, which doesn't sound like a big deal (since what does his jaw have to do with playing baseball, really?), except the jaw will have to be wired shut, which means he's going to have a hard time eating enough solid food to stay in shape. Neal Huntington suggests Sanchez could be done for the year, which unfortunately seems pretty likely given that it's late June and the minor league season ends in early September. This is awful news, particularly given the inordinate number of injuries Pirates prospects have suffered this year. This is what Arizona Fall League assignments are for, so hopefully Sanchez will be healthy enough to play there in October.

There actually was some good news yesterday, in the minors - Bryan Morris had a nice start for Altoona, Jeff Locke pitched well for Bradenton, and Colton Cain and Trent Stevenson combined to pitch the whole nine innings for the GCL Pirates and they were excellent, tossing a three-hitter between them. Like so many Bucs prospects, Cain and Stevenson have spent much of the year on the shelf with injuries, but it's likely that neither of them were going to start the year in a full season league anyway, so at this point, it looks like no harm, no foul. The only discouraging news today came from State College, where the Spikes allowed 13 runs. Zack Von Rosenberg started the game, but fortunately wasn't a big part of the damage - he pitched four innings and allowed three runs, two earned.