And so it's finally done. Like I said last week, I don't have a lot to say about this record directly, but I do have some things I want to say to mark the occasion. That'll have to wait until later, though, because I just rolled in to North Carolina and have some unpacking and things to do.
Ted Lily and Dan McCutchen at 12:35. I'll be driving all day and back in NC just as this one's wrapping up.
There's nothing quite like a walk-off win, is there? After running around all weekend (the rehearsal and wedding I was at were in Meadville, the reception was back in good ol' Mercer County, my tux had to be returned to Boardman), I finally got into the house just in time for the seventh inning stretch of today's game, just after the Pirates had rallied to tie the Cardinals at four. Seeing the score (and because my grandparents were over for dinner), I immediately began working on two "Pirates set record" posts, both for here and FanHouse. After Rick Ankiel homered off of Jesse Chavez in the eighth, I kicked things into overdrive to try and be prepared for what I assumed would be the biggest even in the history of this blog.
I looked up to see Jason Jaramillo single to lead off the ninth, but grumbled when JR elected to throw away another out with the lead-footed Jaramillo on first by having Andy LaRoche bunt into the most predictable force out of the game. Still, with 'Cutch at the plate, I wasn't about to take my eyes off the game. After he singled and Doumit singled LaRoche in, I suddenly got downright positive with Garrett Jones and Lastings Milledge due up. Sure enough, Jones delievered and my eulogies will have to be used another day.
Days like today, these are why I keep watching. We're 81 losses into the seventeenth straight losing season, and I still can't help but break into a grin when I see Garrett Jones single Andrew McCutchen home to win a game, while the other players pour out of the dugout to celebrate with them. Can you imagine how fun it would be if this happened 90 times a season instead of 65?
A few words about last night's game before today's. First off, it's never, ever a good move to put anyone on base as the go-ahead run in the tenth inning, even if that someone at the plate is Albert Pujols. Pujols kills the Pirates, yes. And Matt Capps hasn't been great this year, yes. But putting the go-ahead runner on base in a tie game late in the game drops the win expectancy about 10% with a 100% certainty, whereas it's maybe a 40% chance he gets any sort of hit and a much lower probability that he hits a double or homer. We got burned because Matt Capps has been terrible this year, but it's not like we have many other options. The part about last night's game that disappointed me the most was bunting the scorching-hot Lastings Milledge with nobody out and the winning run on first base. I never like seeing the bat taken out of a player's hand, but it's especially maddening in the situation that it happened in last night.
Paul Maholm and Joel Piniero take the mound at 1:35 today in what could be one of the darkest days in Pirate history. John Russell is apparently compliant with "getting this 82nd loss the hell over with" because Brandon Moss, Neil Walker, Ramon Vasquez, and Jason Jaramillo are all in the starting lineup this afternoon.
Will tonight be loss #80? Can the Pirates shake the road blues to actually, you know, win a game? Can they put up a fight, or are they going to be steamrolled into this losing season like so many others? JR's breaking out a new lineup tonight with Milledge batting cleanup, but the Adam Wainwright vs. Kevin Hart pitching matchup is not favorable at all.
Working on Futilitywatch right now (will link when it goes live), then hanging out in Hermitage this afternoon before going to Meadville tonight for another rehearsal dinner, another wedding and (gulp) another tux tomorrow. Game threads are actually scheduled as promised this weekeend, and I will be around on Sunday should any historic events take place that day, so no worries. Until then, links!
WTM took some pictures of the Lynchburg Hillcats. They were actually in Winston-Salem last weekend, but given my hectic travel schedule of late I decided to sit that one out. Next year, with what will hopefully be a much less-busy summer, I'm going to do my best to see as many of the Pirates' affiliates as possible.
Also at Bucs Dugout, Dan Szymborski posts the ZiPS projections for Garrett Jones' next few seasons. And while we're on the subject of Jones, Chuck Finder has a great piece about "the Legend" in the PG today. Though when people call him "the Legend" it makes me think of The Natural and by extension, this guy.
Lastings Milledge's last 16 games: .398/.458/.596.
Now please refocus all of your energies into the helping the Pirates win four games against the Cardinals and Cubs in the coming week, so as to not set the worst record in sports against Tony Frickin' La Russa or 10,000 Cubs fans at PNC Park.
I've got to drive this afternoon to make my way back to good ol' PA for another wedding. Since tonight's an off-night, I'm going to set up this post and thread because I'm curious to see people's opinions on Pedro Alvarez after his first minor league season.
How much does his high strikeout rate (129 Ks in 542 PAs) affect your opinion of him as a prospect? Do his struggles at Lynchburg still worry you? When do you expect to see him in Pittsburgh?
I guess it's not fair if I don't answer these questions myself; I have downgraded my expectations for him just a little bit after this year. I think he's probably headed for a career in which he's a little more one-dimensional (that is, power oriented) at the plate than we had originally hoped; maybe falling somewhere between Carlos Pena and Prince Fielder. That's not a bad thing. Obviously both of those players provide the sort of thump that the Pirates need desperately even if they don't generally hit for a high batting average. I think we'll probably see him next year, maybe around June or July, but not before then because he's got to prove he can hit Triple-A pitching without flailing at pitches out of the strike zone.
It may seem important that Garrett Jones hit the 10,000th home run in Pirate history. That does seem like a momentous occaision, for sure. What I think is more important is this: Drew Stubbs hit three home runs in 472 plate appearances for the Louisville Bats in the PCL this year. He's hit four since being called up to the Reds two weeks ago, including three in 18 plate appearances against the Pirates in the last four games. And that, folks, is the Pittsburgh Pirates in a nutshell.
Three to go. If you've got tickets for Sunday's game against the Cards, you might be in for some history.