No idea why the Pirates and Mets are playing at 1:10 today, but they are and that means I can't watch them. Paul Maholm looks to make some headway after his last good start was wasted against the Brewers and he'll go against John Maine, who's off to a pretty rough start this year. Both today and tomorrow are pretty favorable pitching matchups for us, so hopefully we can steal a win here.
A few quick notes from the Trib: Adam Melhuse was signed and sent to AAA to provide some depth at catcher with Doumit out, Matt Capps might pitch today, and Jimmy Barthmaier is getting TJ and will be out for the season. That's pretty rough news about Barthmaier; I thought he was pretty intriguing last year at AAA and was hoping maybe he'd push for a rotation spot if Karstens was struggling this year. That will obviously no longer be the case.
When you're in a rut, you can't waste a start like the one Jeff Karstens gave the Pirates yesterday. You've lost five in a row and nine out of ten, and you get six innings from your fifth starter where he holds one of the best teams in the National League to just two runs. You have to win that game.
This Pirate team right now is, to borrow a phrase, who we thought they were. The starting pitching is better than last year's and the offense is somewhere between terrible and below average, but the bullpen is a disaster. This is, as you can probably guess, not a combination of abilities that's going to lead to many wins. Or, if the last six games are evidence, any wins at all.
You know what would be really great for a team that's lost nine of their last ten games? A chance to face Oliver Perez. The Mets have deprived us of that opportunity tonight by putting Perez on the "disabled list" (you know ... that place where crappy pitchers with no options go while the team tries to figure out what to do with them) and calling up Jon Niese. He'll make the start against Jeff Karstens, which is a pretty nice assignment for a guy making his fourth big league start.
Will the first trip to Citi Field be a chance for the Pirates to break out of their funk? Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if it was, but I don't know how long the team can keep playing this badly. Maybe that's because I don't want to know.
But, oh God, sometimes the Green Mile seems so long.
For a long time, I was the kid that used to tell everyone every spring that this year was the year that the Pirates would break their losing streak. I gave up on that a few years ago, when I finally realized each spring that bad teams don't magically turn in to good teams. As has been said ad nauseum this year, there's a difference between teams like last year's Rays, who were a good team that most people slept on because of their bad history, and this year's Pirates.
And still, every single spring, I get excited when baseball starts. And when the Pirates roll through April at 12-11? Yep. I'm as excited as anyone. I can't help it. When I write, I try to ground myself in reality as much as possible and I tell myself things like, "This can't last, these guys aren't that good," because I know that's the truth, but there's always a little voice in my head that says, "Maybe this year is different. Maybe you missed something. Maybe the upgrade of the defense means more than you think. Maybe the Joe Kerrigan effect is bigger than anything you can quantify. Maybe this is for real."
And that leads us to my least favorite day of the baseball season. The day the crippling reality sets in that the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be bad again. It's never easy to pinpoint the moment, but I'm pretty sure it happened earlier this week against the Brewers this year. That's actually not bad; it's happened at the home opener before.
It always amazes me when this realization disappoints me. I've known the Pirates were going to be bad in 2009 since at least 2007. It's not surprising that they're bad, but it's still somehow disappointing. It's like getting in trouble at school as a kid. At my school, they'd always call you to the principal's office, where she'd then tell you that she was calling your parents. And for the rest of the day, you'd hope that for some reason, your mom or dad wouldn't have gotten the message and that they wouldn't be upset when they got home. You might even convince yourself that was the case, but then your mom would come home and tell you that she had an interesting conversation with Mrs. Chess, and you'd know you were in trouble.
I know that I'm the guy that's been writing that the front office has a plan and things are looking up and things will get better, and I really do believe that. But I can't deny that this team is frustrating to watch sometimes, or that weeks like this one make me really wonder if the universe will ever allow the Pirates to field a good team. I'm not embarrassed to be a Pirate fan, nor am I giving up on the team. But sometimes, I just wish it didn't have to be so bad.
Things are just not going well for the Pirates right now. After a good start, Ross Ohlendorf fell apart in the fifth inning today, beaning hitters all over the place (including the rare bases-loaded-beaning of Ryan Ludwick), and by the time the beanathon was over, not even Robinzon Diaz's first career homer could save the Pirates.
Five losses in a row, nine losses in ten games. That's all for now, but the Road to 17 will be making its return tomorrow.
These two-game series really have me thrown off. Between Manny Ramirez and getting some labwork done, I completely spaced on this game this afternoon. The Bucs and Cards are already well in progress, with Ohlendorf and Wellemeyer on the mound and Ohlendorf about to let the Cardinals break this bad boy open.no comments
Now that I'm done with my exam, let's talk about WHYGAVS Night 2009. I should be home the weekend of June 12th-14th, which is also the weekend that the Pirates play the Tigers at PNC. Seems to me that the 12th will be the best night to do it (I have other things planned for Saturday). I know this night probably won't work for everyone, but does it work for most people? Are people interested in shirts again this year? I can probably get some bad ass shirts with that P/? logo printed up if people are interested. Let's talk it out.
There are a bunch of encouraging things that I think I could say about this game, but it's hard to even want to say encouraging things like that when a team has lost eight of nine. The Pirates had a good April by avoiding stretches like this. That was easier to do against the schedule they faced in April and like most other years, we're floundering now that we're playing the NL Central again. Do you ever get the feeling that the Pirates could have the most talented team in the National League, and still not be able to beat the NL Central? Because I do.
The encouraging things that I spoke of earlier actually aren't things. It's more of a singular thing. Zach Duke didn't really have his best stuff tonight, but instead of getting lit up for 9 hits and six runs in four innings, he actually managed to hold it together and keep the Pirates in the game. Allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings is nothing to write home about, but at least it kept us in the game.
It feels too early to be looking for silver linings like that.