James McDonald takes the mound tonight in hopes of salvaging at least one game from this ugly trip to Houston. Obviously the first two games haven't gone well and I'd rather not say anything about them at this point, but Charlie Morton and Ross Ohlendorf both racked up big strikeout totals against the Astros despite not being strikeout pitchers. McDonald, on the other hand, is a strikeout pitcher and it's possible that we see a start from him that will look awfully dominating. Whether that means he can last seven innings or not, I guess we'll see.
The Astros counter with JA Happ, who stinks. That doesn't preclude him from pitching well against the Pirates, of course, but it's still true. Matt Diaz has been traded, which means he (thankfully) won't be starting against the lefty tonight, but it apparently also means the Pirates will be rocking a 24-man roster for tonight (and maybe for a while beacuse, as David Todd points out, Indianapolis is in a playoff race and the Pirates aren't). Having a roster with Matt Diaz or Pedro Ciriaco or whoever is basically a 24-man roster anyway, so I don't see that this is a huge problem until the Pirates need a spot-starter for Jeff Karstens on Friday.
First pitch tonight is at 8:05.
Nice play by the J-Hay Kid. I wouldn't mind him winning the 3B job next year. It's nice to have a 3B who can actually field the position. Just move K-Dro to 1B.
It will be fun to start a "Pat Hates J-Hay" meme as well.
So on the subject of your memory of the Pirates, here's a topic I've been considering for a while:
What's your most frustrating Pirates game?
It seems like just yesterday I was down in Florida watching Brad Lincoln look like the second coming of Clayton Kershaw. I still can't believe we've gone an entire season and he's made, what, two starts? After seeing him in Dunedin I thought he was going to have a break out year.
Hello Patrick my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because the winter's softly creeping
and the Pirate fans are weeping
'cause our baseball team suddenly stinks again
Same sad refrain,
the sound of sighing
And in the ballpark light I saw
ten thousand people going home
People walking without singing
while the Bucs were swiftly swinging
at nothing, nought but empty air
And we just stared
with the sound of sighing
"Fools," said Pat, "You do not know
That's how Pirates baseball goes
Hear my words that I might teach you
Read my blog that I might reach you"
But his words like the Pirates' standing fell
in the sound of sighing
Don't know if it was mentioned in the comments last night but congrats to Cutch for becoming a member of the 20-20 club. Only 7 players reached that in 2010 and he's the 7th member to join this season. However, it's possible that 6 or more players might reach that plateau in September; BJ Upton 18/27, Dustin Pedroia 17/24, Chris Young 19/19, CarGo 24/19, Melky Cabrera 17/17 and Asdrubal Cabrera 21/16 are the closest.This begs the question: How big of an achievement is this? If only around 20 guys have done it in the last 2 seasons, it seems pretty damn good to me.
@Carnegie Chip I don't mind anyone winning starting jobs by playing well.
@Eephus This whole park is ridiculous. That stupid hill in center, being 300 to LF is ridiculous... I can't believe anybody designed this park and MLB would say, "Yeah, that works."
@Eephus Nice hustle, Ronny.
Mine is September 22, 2004 (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT200409220.shtml)
I go to the game riding a personal eight-game winning streak at PNC Park. Oliver Perez is dealing early, thoroughly earning the Randy Johnson comparisons he was getting that year. He hasn't allowed a baserunner through 4 2/3, then gets in trouble: walk, single, walk, walk, run scores. He would get it back together the next few innings, leaving after seven with eight strikeouts. But the Pirates would fail to score a run, and lose 1-0.
@Eephus Good luck. I tried on a few other threads and this place is like a Marlins game. The bandwagon has not only been abandoned, they pulled off the tires and set it on fire.
@Eephus You talked about frustration earlier. If you said "Name the most frustrating PLAYER,' I'd say Pedro easy. Even Ian Snell didn't make me as mad as watching K-dro play this year.
@Carnegie Chip I suppose the bright side is in ten years the Astros will claim the stadium is obsolete and threaten to move unless a new one is built.
@Carnegie Chip Pat's post title was prescient.
@Eephus That link does not work.
I really can't think of one to be honest. Even during the Freak Show year, I haven't really believed this is a contending team until this year. The Meals Debacle was the first time a loss has haunted me for days since Game 7.
@Carnegie Chip I admit it's kinda hard to talk about the game when we mostly know what's going to happen. And when we've decided that individual game results aren't important anymore.
@Carnegie Chip Oh, but I also have to mention that I was at his 3 GIDP game in the first week of August. The fourth time he came up there were two outs, so I told my sister, "He can't ground into a double play. He'll strike out instead". He struck out. There are some times when it's impossible to be optimistic.
@Carnegie Chip The difference that expectation can make. I wonder if he never should've been brought up _last_ year. He never proved that he can perform well without striking out a ton, at any level.
@Eephus He's been scarily accurate with things he's said for the past month or so. It's almost like he's seen this movie before. :(
@Carnegie Chip Ah, the pain of near-success where you didn't expect it.
@Eephus Oh I did think of one game I almost threw something at my tv because I couldn't believe it.
Paul Wagner had a no-hitter in the 9th a couple years after Bonds left, I'm thinking 95 or 96. He lost it with two outs. It was frustrating because irony or ironies, Wagner lead the MAJORS in losses that season yet somehow looked like Cy Young that game (against the Rockies). I knew he sucked and this was his one moment of greatness so it made me mad that he didn't get it.
Of course, I can say that about a lot of Pirates over the years.
@Carnegie Chip LiveFyre decided to put the close-parentheses in the link. But you don't need to look at it, unless you'd like to dredge up the memories of Tike Redman and Humberto Cota.
@Carnegie Chip Like I said, ridiculous optimism. It is just really hard to make the playoffs the way things are structured now. I'd be happy with yearly division races, yes. If for no other reason that it's actually easier to win the world series than it is to make the playoffs.
@Eephus Thing is, winning in baseball is by far the hardest thing to do in sports. Look at the runs some teams have. Boston waited 80ish years. The Cubs are looking at 90ish. Before the Phillies have 2 titles in their 100 odd year history. Did you realize the Giants WS title last year was the first since THEY LEFT NY?
Gosh, this sounds like a downer. I'm just saying, baseball is the one sport where you can fall into an abyss and it takes a looooong time to get out of it. Like I said, I'd like a championship but I'd be more than happy with yearly penant races. Look how much fun this season was until Jerry Meals.
@Carnegie Chip ...and here's where I confess my ridiculous optimism. I follow football, baseball, and hockey. I'm from Louisiana and moved to Pittsburgh about ten years ago. In my lifetime the teams I care about have won two college football championships, six college world series, three super bowls, and a stanley cup. They all have a championship except the Pirates. They won't leave me hanging forever, right? :)
@Eephus My dad lives in Tampa so I have to hear about the Rays all the time. He's a diehard Yinzer, he wore his Sid jersey to the Tampa Arena when they played the Lightning in the playoffs last year. The Pirates are the only team he's abandoned.
But, yeah, I just want the Rays. There is no reason we can't have the team they have and the success they have. No, I don't expect the Pirates to threepeat as champs or anything but if they can do what the Rays have done, I would take it.
@Carnegie Chip This gets back to the "How good do we need these guys to be to consider it a success" discussion from a couple of months ago, but when I look at World Series winning teams what stands out to me lately is great pitching and solid contributions throughout the lineup. Josh Bell turning into Barry Bonds would be nice, but a championship team also needs everyone to produce.(Also, I would've considered myself an average fan a few years ago. I didn't root for Eldred because I thought he'd miraculously be great, but because I didn't pay attention to the farm system to know his history)
@Eephus Well you're kind of a hardcore. The average fan isn't going to care much about those guys. It'd be great if one of them makes surprises us but the team itself hasn't sold the average fan on any of them. So you're not going to get much interest in the team on that level for awhile.
For the time being, this is the line up we were sold as being "the nucleus" so if they don't win, people aren't going to watch.
@Carnegie Chip True. But I've always been interested in the attempt to get value where we don't expect it. Your Garrett Joneses, Brad Eldreds, etc. That's why I root for Presley to gain power, d'Arnaud to start spraying singles and doubles everywhere, and so on.
@Eephus I don't think last place was the big draw last year. Young Neil, Pedro, and Tabata were all shiny and new last season. So there was interest in seeing how they'd do. That's old hat now. I don't think there is a single prospect worth getting interested in until the Allie/Taillon/Cole triumvirate get here.
Unless you're a huge Gorkys fan.
@Carnegie Chip I'd agree with that. Interestingly, I think it's because they did so well early on. They're not even in a race for last place this year, unless things go horribly wrong.
@Eephus Thing is, a lot of the excitement is gone. I mean, we're not in a race anymore so that's moot. We're not really in the .500 race either so that's sad. And finally, we have already brought up all our decent prospects so there's really no "OMG! IT'S SUPER PROSPECT #853's DEBUT TONIGHT!" excitement either.
Really, this is the most boring stretch to be a Pirates fan I can ever remember.
@Carnegie Chip And when McDonald singles and Tabata grounds into a double play