Tag Archives: Virgil Vasquez

Pirates/Nationals Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 5 Nationals 4

Pirates 11 Nationals 6

Pirates 3 Nationals 5

Pirates 4 Nationals 8

Andrew McCutchen…..power hitter?  Seems like it.  4 home runs in the series.  3 in one game.  What the heck got into him?  I’d love to know.  But I guess that’s just the one good note Pirate fans get on the otherwise disappointing series.  The new look Pirates looked good out of the gates on Friday.  They hit their stride on Saturday.  They took and early lead on Sunday and blew it.  Then decided that blowing leads was so much fun they do it again on Sunday.

But, alas, back to the beginning on Friday.  Ross Ohlendorf had his usual outing, by which I mean he went about 6 innings and then just totally ran out of gas with no warning.  If he’s going to be a starter with low stamina, the least he could do is gradually let off so that Russell knows when to warm someone up.  Oh, well.  Chavez cleaned up his mess, so no harm no foul, I guess.  We rolled out 5 pitchers in this game.  Taxing your bullpen like that is okay as long as it’s not a habit.  Steve Pearce got a home run.  Lets hope that’s a sign of the power we’ve been looking for out of him for the past, oh, I don’t know, few years or so.  Ryan Doumit had an awful game all around, but since he was the exception on the offense instead of the rule (like usual), we get the W.  I’ll take it.

Game two was the Andrew McCutchen show.  3 home runs and a single to go 4 for 5.  How long until he’s traded again?  Oh, well.  I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.  Everyone was hitting the ball hard.  Except for Garrett Jones that is.  The one proven power hitter in the lineup.  He looked like he was swinging for Ohio, and got under a ball to right field twice.  I have a sinking suspicion that pitchers are starting to get a book on him, and those home runs will dry up.  But once again: oh, well.  I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.  Virgil Vasquez pitched, and surprisingly was only half bad.  He made it through 5, and was relieved by his co-5th starter: Jeff Karstens.  I think when Virgil’s up, Jeff knows to get warmed up really well.  I can’t remember the last time Vasquez started and didn’t have to hand the ball off to Karstens for some long relief.  You might as well just start Jeff.  I don’t get it.  Sigh.

Game three was miserable.  Paul Maholm was on the mound, and wasn’t getting great run-support, but was taking a 2-1 lead into the 7th inning when the wheels came off and he gives up 3 runs.  We lose 5-3.  Crap.  It’s a shame because Paul’s shown good stuff this year.  But this isn’t the first outing this season where he’s run out of gas.  Ronny Cedeno flashed some leather in this one (well, all series actually) so he’s at least a serviceable shortstop…..defensively.  Offensively, he was known as “rally killin’ Ronny'” in Seattle.  I see why after watching him for a weekend.  He’s not a strong guy, so all he can do is push out into the short short outfield and hope it finds a hole.  He’ll ground into a lot of double plays.  Just the facts of life.  But at least you know he’s not juicing, right?

Game four was more of the same.  McCutchen started the game off with a home run.  We put two more across in the 1st inning.  Then we couldn’t get out of our own way for the next 7 innings.  Ryan Doumit singled in Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 9th, but by then it was already 8-3 with two outs and all but a lost cause.  Charlie Morton pitched 6 innings and was throwing extremely well for the first 5, but then gave up 4 runs in the 6th.  That seems to be a theme for Pirate starters.  Get to about the 6th somewhere and call it a day.  I’m not sure if its the training they’re doing that isn’t getting the stamina up enough or what, but this is a staff-wide problem.  It’s not just one guy with a quirk.  I’m getting worried.

So there you have it.  A fantastic AAA series in Pittsburgh ends in a draw.  But, on the bright side, the Pirates were able to bring in Jo Dee Messina for a concert on Saturday and give the fans SOMETHING to cheer about.  She was very good, by the way.  She mentioned Bob Nutting and seemed pretty shocked by the boos.  I think she realized pretty quick that she touched on a very sore spot and the best course of action was to not talk baseball.  Smart lady.  The Diamondbacks are in town for a 3 game series now.  Another beatable team.  Lets hope we can get a ray of sunshine before the Cards come in over the weekend and clean our clocks.  Ugh.

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Pirates/Diamondbacks Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 4 Diamondbacks 11

Pirates 10 Diamondbacks 3

Pirates 0 Diamondbacks 7

Pirates 0 Diamondbacks 9

Life is not good for Pirate fans right now.  I realize that’s par for the course around here, but it’s especially bad right now.  We just dropped 3 of 4 to a fairly bad Arizona team, and we were shut out twice by some mediocre pitching in the process.  In addition, two of the only guys on the team who actually belong on a major league roster (or at least  have an argument to be on one) are involved in some heavy trade rumors.  Yeah, it’s gettin’ pretty bad around here.  But that’s our Bucs.  Win a couple of series’ to get our hopes up, then collapse.

Game one started out innocently enough.  We were tied going into the 8th, and the bullpen just puked on itself, giving up 5 runs.  We were never going to come back from that.  Disappointing for sure, but on a bad team like the Pirates collapses like that are going to happen.  The one thing that stung a little bit was that John Grabow was involved in the melee.  He’s been pretty steady.  Garrett Jones and Steve Pearce both had decent days which was nice to see.  This one was kind of a bitter pill to swallow, though.  Especially because we took a 4-1 lead in the 5th only to see it immediately disappear into a tie game again.  But these are the breaks in baseball.  Not every lead is safe.

Game two was the lone bright spot in the series.  There was a promotion where for every run scored in the last three games of the Arizona series, tickets for select seats for Friday’s game would be reduced by $1.  Not a bad idea.  And the Bucs looked like they really wanted to make up for their past poor performances by giving the fans free seats.  Garrett Jones hit another home run (what else is new), but I’m waiting for pitchers to figure him out.  I think most of his success has a lot to do with his new car smell.  Once pitchers get a book on him, he won’t last (though I hope I’m wrong).  We strung together some hits, and managed to get a 10 spot on the board!  Arizona doesn’t have the fire-power to match that.  $10 off tickets with 2 games to go: the fans were sitting pretty on Friday night.

But, unfortunately, it didn’t last.  In game three, we spread out 8 hits, and were shut out.  I will say that it was kind of a cheap shut out, though.  A timely hit in one of a number of places would have put an end to that.  Doug Davis was throwing a 5 hit shutout through 6 and was still yanked.  That’ll tell you everything you need to know about him.  But the bottom line is that we definitely didn’t deserve to win that game.  Also, Evan Meek had another disastrous outing.  He better get things together pretty soon.

Game four was deja vu all over again.  Another shut out.  It’s amazing how bi-polar this offense can be.  This time the pitching culprit was Max Scherzer.  7 innings and 5  hits.  We went 3 up 3 down in the 8th and 9th, so those were also our only hits of the game, too.  I’ve said it before this season, but that’s an embarrassment.  I don’t care who you are, getting shut out in back to back nights against a team like Arizona can’t happen.  Virgil Vasquez pitched horribly.  I know I kind of came to his defense last series, but that’s now 2 or 3 really bad outings in a row.  Maybe I was too quick with the praise.  Freddy Sanchez capped off his awful series by going 0 for 4.  Maybe he’s subconsciously trying to destroy his trade value so he can stay.  I don’t know.

So that’s where we stand.  In a heap of trouble.  On the bright side, however, Steelers training camp opens this week.  It won’t be long before we can have something else to watch around here.  Plus, there’s $10 off some tickets to Friday’s game.  Too bad it’s the Nats in town.  Oh, well.  AAA baseball is still baseball (and I’m only half kidding about that).  Yipee!

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Pirates/Brewers Recap

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Pirates 8 Brewers 5

Pirates 0 Brewers 2

Pirates 8 Brewers 7

Well, that was interesting.  Little bit of every aspect of the game in this one: a pitcher’s duel, a home run derby and even an ugly brawl.  But, the bottom line is we pick up another series win and end a very ugly streak in the process.  So you can’t be unhappy with that.

Game one was the brawl portion of the series.  The Bucs jumped out to an early 6-1 lead behind Ross Ohlendorf.  Garrett Jones went yard.  Again.  Just about everyone got a hit.  It was a very nice showing, and a well deserved win.  The real fireworks, however, started in the 8th inning.  With the game at 7-2 Pirates and out of hand, the Brewers took the opportunity to get some payback.  From way back in April.  April!  It all started when Ryan Braun hit a home run and Jeff Karstens hit him his next time up.  This is one of those things that I hate about baseball.  If a pitcher feels shown up, he plunks the hitter.  If you don’t want the hitter to show you up, don’t hang a curve.  Period.  I can understand protecting your hitter, though.  If a pitcher on the other team throws at one of your hitters, you have to retaliate to establish some consequences and hopefully prevent it from happening in the first place.  The Brewers had a chance to throw at Karstens in that game.  They didn’t.  It started a bit of a tiff in the locker room.  They threw at our guy the next night.  The Pirates took it.  We’re even.  Or not.  Karstens came up to bat during long relief on Monday, and he got plunked.  I realize that revenge is a dish best served cold, but c’mon, that was April.  That revenge is frozen by now.  Plus, you already got your retribution.  I don’t get it.  Expect it to turn into some more fireworks in the future, though.  They come back in mid-August.  The Pirates aren’t dumb.  The umps issued warning before each of the last two games.  No use getting someone suspended.  If the Brewers can wait 3 months, we can wait 1, right?

Game two was the pitchers duel.  Virgil Vasquez and Braden Looper were all but unhitable.  Vasquez gave up 2 runs in about 7 innings, which I’ll take every time.  Especially from a 5th man in the rotation.  I think Vasquez is a fine 5th pitcher.  He shows flashes of brilliance and occasionally throws a stinker (which is what makes him a 5th starter instead of an ace).  I’ll take that.  Unfortunately, Looper also pitched 7 brilliant innings.  I’d love to shower him with praise, but I can’t.  We couldn’t hit anything off of the next 3 pitchers that entered the game, either.  That’s a surefire sign of a bad offensive night, not a great pitching night.  We managed 4 measly hits all night.  That will never ever get it done.  On the bright side, however, we only struck out once.  So, I guess that’s actually good defense by the Brewers.  I can respect that.

Game three was a slugfest.  Paul Maholm and Jeff Suppan were on the hill, so I wasn’t prepared for it, either.  Maholm’s been one of our best pitchers (which is almost saying something this year), and Suppan has been hit and miss all year.  Well, Maholm looked very mortal out there compared to the heavy Milwaukee bats, and Suppan was definitely in ‘miss’ mode.  Neither one made it to the 5th to register a decision.  There were 7 home runs in this game.  Doumit blasted two (and almost had a third), making it known he’s back from injury.  Garrett freaking Jones hit ANOTHER one.  That makes 9 already.  I wonder how much longer he can keep this up?  An interesting stat, though: all 9 home runs have been solo jacks.  A testament to the horrible OBP for the Pirates.  The biggest homer of the day, however, belonged to Brandon Moss.  His dinger in the bottom of the 9th untied the score and gave us our first series win against Milwaukee since I believe the Taft administration.

This is definitely turning into a bit of a rivalry.  I have no idea why, but any team that gets our anger up enough to hit 5 homers in a game is okay by me.  Don’t look now, but the Pirates haven’t lost a series since before the All-Star break (last week, I know, but I’m grasping at straws here).  We’re heading out to Phoenix tomorrow to start another series on the road this time.  Let hope we can keep this going.

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Pirates/Phillies Recap

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Pirates 2 Phillies 3

Pirates 7 Phillies 8

Pirates 2 Phillies 5

What can you say about this series?  It was a disaster in every sense of the word.  It was embarrassing to be a Pittsburgh fan.  Just awful.  We found new ways to lose.  I even had to take an extra day to calm down so I can write this.

How bad is the impression of the Pirates around baseball?  How about this one.  Jonathan Sanchez (a pitcher for the Giants) was rumored to be part of a deal for Freddy Sanchez.  He responded by going out on Saturday and tossing a no hitter.  Seriously.  Now, there’s two ways to interpret this news.  First is to realize the lengths players will go to to avoid being a Pirate.   Second is to realize that this is one more  instance where the Pirates have rotten luck.  We pull the trigger on a trade for him last week and maybe that no-no goes for us.  Nah.  You still need to score runs to win.  Even during a no hitter.  I forgot.

Anyway, game one was an odd-ball.   Zach Duke pitched a complete game (which literally probably made him an All Star).  He gave up 3, but over 8 innings I’ll take that in a heartbeat.  We were down 3-1 in the 9th, got a solo shot from Brandon Moss to pull within 1, and weren’t able to do anything else.  The case of the missing bats continues.  6 hits and 8 K’s.  Once again we see that reoccurring theme of striking out more than we’re getting hits.  We blew a gem by Duke.  Simple as that.  Poor guy would have had 10 wins by now on any other team in the bigs.

Game two was a heart-breaker.  The bats kind of showed up, and we got 10 hits and 3 home runs.  That never happens.  We have to take advantage of that, right?  We finally get one, right?  …..Please?  Nope.  We built up a 7-3 lead going into the 9th, and we have our closer coming in.  Usually a game over situation.  But not this time.  Capps proceeds to totally throw up on himself and give up 5 runs and 6 hits while only getting 1 out.  So now if you hear Pittsburgh fans talk, we don’t have a closer.  All of a sudden all of those times he’s put men on and made us sweat before getting the outs he needed matter.  I realize he’s not a great closer, but c’mon he plays for the Pirates.  We get about 1 save opportunity a week (maybe less after the trades).  If there’s one position we can save money and get a sub-par player, it’s closer.  The fact that he’s not Mariano Rivera is not news.  But I digress.  Capps had a bad day.  An especially bad day.  Which is alright.  Everyone’s entitled to one.  What I can’t understand is why he was allowed to stay out there for 5 runs and 6 hits while only getting 1 out.  Where’s Russell realizing that ‘gee.  My closer just gave up 2 home runs.  Maybe it’s time to stick a fork in him’?  You have to know your team better than that.  Just a killer loss.

Game three saw the Bucs obviously reeling from the loss the night before.  The Phils jumped out to a quick 5 run lead in the first inning and cruised.  Virgil Vasquez was horrible to start, and got no run support.  We scattered 7 hits, and had only managed 1 run going into the 9th (where we added another).  I think we saw the All Star Break looming and packed it in a game early.  That’s probably the most disappointing loss.  The one where we stopped trying.  Not bad luck.  Bad effort.

So with that, we’ve officially entered the dark period of the Pirates schedule.  This should only last until, oh, late September or so.  Get used to it.  I’m starting to get numb to the Pirates.  After the Saturday loss, I kind of packed in the season, too.  I was kind of hoping that this team might gel, and (although a very long shot), come back to challenge .500.  I’m not looking for playoffs this year.  I know better than that.  I was just looking for something (anything) to make me care about a game in September.  Or August for that matter.  It kills me that I’ve lowered my standards that much, and we still can’t meet them.  Welcome to Pirate fandom, I guess.  Where you pay your dues for the Steeler/Penguin seasons.  I’ll see you on the other side of the midsummer classic.

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