Alright. When we last left the Pirates, they were on desperate times. They had an awful series in Philadelphia where nothing went right. They had an offense on life support. They had made some major trades that severely downgraded their outfield, and their closer had just blown an awful game. Coming out of the All Star break, we get Tim Lincecum and the Giants coming into town. Just what the doctor ordered for an aching offense: a Cy Young contending pitcher. Lets see how it went, shall we?
Well, we were lucky. Lincecum pitched the game you would expect him to pitch. He struck out 10 and gave up only 1 run and 5 hits in 7 innings of work. Not too shabby. We countered with Paul Maholm who pitched a gem of his own going 8 innings while giving up 1 run and 4 hits and striking out 7. Everyone came to see a pitchers duel on Friday, and that’s exactly what they got. Fantastic. The game went to 14 innings before Garrett Jones hit a walk-off solo jack to win it. Drama abound. This after Jones hit another one in the beginning of the game to score the Pirates only other run. I haven’t talked much about Jones even though he’s been on the radar for awhile, so I’ll formally introduce you to him. He’s been in the Twins organization for a while, and after becoming a free agent this off-season, we picked him up. He came up when we traded Eric Hinske, and has been doing nothing but hitting home runs since. Seriously. He has 7 home runs so far this year. In 14 games which is a very impressive rate. However, he only has an average of .286 and an OBP of .333. That means if it doesn’t leave the park, he’s in trouble. Not much of a singles hitter, this one (he’s got 16 hits including the 7 home runs). When I said it’s all or nothing, I wasn’t kidding. So, to recap, Jones and Maholm carry the rest of the team to a win.
Game two saw another decent pitching matchup (for a Bucco game): Charlie Morton vs. Barry Zito. Morton is pitching decently since moving over in the McLouth trade. Zito, umm, used to be good at some point. Morton did very well while out-pitching Zito. He puts up a line of 7 innings, 0 runs and 3 hits. Very solid. So solid, I’m wondering whether this is San Francisco’s lack of offense that’s making our staff look unhitable. But, I digress. We eek out 2 runs on 6 measly hits and once again do juuuuuuust enough to win. Oh, and Matt Capps picked up the save (after allowing 2 hits), and gives a huge fist pump. Whatever builds his confidence.
Game three matches Matt Cain against Zach Duke. I know I’m making a huge deal about pitching in this series, but these are two teams that rely heavily on their staffs to get it done. These were three good matchups, and they didn’t disappoint. Anyway, Duke does ok, giving up 4 runs in 7 innings. That’s usually enough to at least keep you in the game if not let your team get a lead. But Matt Cain is having a heck of a year, and against our lineup he did very well. We were down 4-1 when he left after 7, got two back in the 8th, and come up just short of the sweep. Brandon Moss hit a homer. That’s his 4th of the year. That number was expected to be much much higher by now. Our buddy Garrett Jones goes 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. Ouch.
So that’s your series. The pitching staff couldn’t have carried this team any more if there were handles installed. Garrett Jones continues to be Mr. Fire and Ice. If he gets some consistency and patience, he’ll be something. Otherwise he’ll be a very frustrating player. We’ve got enough of those. Jack and Freddy were offered ‘contract extensions’. Most of the fans saw right through that ploy. The news just came out tonight that both players rejected the contracts that were roughly half of what they were to make next year. I guess it was a smart move, though. Offer pitifully low contracts. If they sign them, great. If not, you can blame them when you trade them. That would have worked, would this not have been the most skeptical, pessimistic fan base in baseball (and with good reason). So you can count the days until our team becomes even worse. We have no one in the minors to replace them. Remember Brian Bixler’s time in the bigs earlier this year? Remember how he struck out more times than the AV club president on ladies night? Think about that being permanent for the rest of the year. *shudder*