The Pirates and Cubs kick off a series of three straight afternoon games today at 2:20 at Wrigley. Charlie Morton and Randy Wells take the mound. I also posted an epic-length Futilitywatch at FanHouse today with some stuff that I thought was interesting about the other longest losing streaks in American sports history.no comments
The Pirates are a wholly depressing team right now, so I'm just going to keep plowing on with this whole "thinking about the future" thing. Today, we move on to what's potentially the most interesting part of the Neal Huntington rebuildapalooza, the outfield. Again, it's after the jump (which is located on the right now).
Well, uh, at least we scored a run? This baseball team is pretty hard to watch right now. I don't have anything else to say about this.
Paul Maholm and Jason Marquis at 3:10 as the Pirates try to bounce back from last night's debacle. I feel like Marquis sold his soul to be able to beat the Pirates and that doesn't chance since he's actually having a good year this year.
Two quick notes to catch up after spending all day in my "written comps deprivation chamber."
The first is that the Pirates claimed Jon Meloan off of waivers from Tampa today. When I saw Tampa DFA'd him last week, I thought to myself, "the Pirates should claim him." You can decide whether it's a good thing or not that Huntington and I are on the same wavelength, but Meloan seems like a nice pickup. His minor league numbers as a reliever prior to last year were exceptional. The Dodgers then made the curious move of trying to make him a starter in the PCL, which had predictably ugly results. He went to Cleveland in the Casey Blake trade, then to Tampa this summer. His minor league numbers didn't bounce back to his previous levels (his walks have been out of control this year), but he still seems like an interesting guy and worth a shot at this point.
Second, a few people have asked about Ross Ohlendorf's fastball last night. To be honest, I wasn't paying that much attention during the game (I'm currently surrounded by a halo of journal articles on the floor along with a highlighter and a legal pad full of indecipherable scribbles as I work on this test) but it's certainly easy enough to look up his PitchFX at Brooks' Baseball. If you'll recall, I wrote this when describing Ohlendorf's fastball back in early July:
His fastball this year is much slower than it was out of the pen with the Yankees in 2008. His fastball with the Yankees averaged about 93.9 mph and you can see he hit above 96 several times. His fastball with the Pirates averages 90.6 and it's very rarely touched above 94.Last night, he averaged 93.37 and topped out at 96.4. Taking a quick glance at the velocity graph, I actually see about 21 pitches above 94 from last night. Doing a quick survey of his other outings since I put the PitchFX study together a month ago, he's been pretty consistently averaging between 91 and 92 and topping out right around 94 every time out. Kevin Hart's velocity didn't change that much between his last start (at PNC) and his start tonight, so I'll tentatively say this increase for Ohlendorf was for real. I'll certainly keep a closer eye on it next time he takes the mound.
I think that the highlight of this game was Chris Bootcheck striking out two hitters in the sixth inning to drop his ERA to 21.60. That should pretty much tell you exactly what you need to know about this one. We did manage to draw four walks off of Jiminez in his eight innings, but then we coupled that with three hits and that's bad. Kevin Hart's velocity was pretty good tonight but he looked awfully hittable. That's probably an effect of the thin air on the sinking action of his fastball, though it didn't really affect Ohlendorf much last night.
I know this sort of loss is really a downer since we've now lost nine of ten, but it's really only the second time we've really gotten squashed in those nine losses, which says something. It doesn't necessarily say something good, but it does say something.
I have the next installment of "Where do we go from here" almost done, but I spent most of this afternoon working on my exam and didn't have time to finish it. It'll definitely be good to go tomorrow morning.
Tonight, the Pirates shoot for an unfathomable two-game winning streak against the Rockies. Kevin Hart makes his second start in black and gold and hopefully it ends better than his first one, in which he made a pretty solid start but stormed out of the locker room without talking to reporters after a bullpen meltdown blew the lead he left the game with and eventually resulted in a loss. As always, I'm interested to watch these new guys pitch. Hart gets a tough draw tonight, though, as the Rockies send Ubaldo Jiminez to the hill against him. Jiminez is the sort of guy that seems to give the Pirates' fits; hard throwing, but without great control that leaves us flailing at pitches out of the strike zone all night. We didn't do that against Jhoulys Chacin last night and if we can be patient against Jiminez tonight, maybe we can put some runs on the board.
It's hard to believe that a team that did so many things wrong for so many days in a row got so many things right tonight. It's easy enough to see where things started going right tonight; right at the top of the lineup. Andrew McCutchen put on a leadoff hitting clinic tonight, drawing three walks, doubling, stealing three bases, and scoring three times. It's impressive to see how many different ways he's influenced games as a 22-year old rookie.
Perhaps most importantly tonight, the same Pirate team that's been painfully undisciplined at the plate during their eight-game losing streak drew four walks from Jhoulys Chacin in his 2 2/3 inning outing and actually made him pay for them, scratching out five runs in the first three innings. Lastings Milledge made a couple nice catches in the field and had a big double, Garrett Jones had a couple hits and an RBI double, Ryan Doumit had two hits and score the first run, and Ronny Cedeno continued his surprising run of competence at the plate with the Bucs, singling in the important seventh run.
Most importantly, Jose Ascanio, Jesse Chavez, Evan Meek, and Joel Hanrahan nailed down the Rockies for three technically scoreless innings (Ascanio allowed an inherited runner to score) and held the lead for the Bucs. The Pirates' bullpen certainly isn't great and they've taken their lumps in the past week or so, but those four guys really aren't bad relievers and even without a lefty like Grabow to split things up and create matchup advantages, they're not nearly as bad as the recent losing streak indicated. It's really good to see them hold on to a lead tonight; hopefully this will be what they needed to get back on the right track.
This is a bad time for the Pirates to be heading to Coors Field. We're on an ugly eight-game skid, while the Rockies just got done whupping the Cubs and valuting themselves into the wild card lead. This losing streak does have to end at some point (at least by conventional wisdom, it does), but this series just feels like a bad match for us.
Anyways, Ross Ohlendorf gets a chance to end the streak and he's matched up against Jhoulys Chacin, who's making his first big league start tonight. Chacin's 21 with great minor league numbers and he's been solid out of Colorado's pen so far this year. Which is to say that I'm expecting a big first start from him tonight, especially against our lineup.