Xavier Nady continued his hot start to 2007 and Ian Snell set a career high with 11 strikeouts as the Pirates improved to 2-0 with another come-from-behind victory last night.
Nady's 2nd inning homerun landed near New Mexico and his bloop single in the 8th brought Jason Bay home with the eventual winning run. It's nice to see Nady start the season strong, especially after a discouraging spring in which he missed time to a stomach ailment and did not produce an extra-base hit or an RBI.
Ian Snell looked very sharp, striking out Astros batters almost at will. However, due to a Pirates' offense that continues to struggle, he left the game after six innings, trailing 2-1. The bullpen took over and, for the second consecutive night, shut down the Astros.
With one gone in the 8th, Jack Wilson alertly pushed a bunt past Dan Wheeler and was safe without a throw. Two batters later, Ronny Paulino worked the count full with two outs and the tying run at 2nd. As the runners broke with the pitch, Paulino was able to yank a flare over Adam Everett and into left-center to tie the game. Nady followed with his pop-up into no man's land and the Pirates had taken the lead. Capps and Torres quietly finished off the final two innings and the Pirates won again.
- The pitching is looking good so far. The bullpen has quietly gone about its business, while Duke and Snell were both impressive. This will be an exciting season if that continues.
- On the other hand, the offense has done very little. There have been some crucial hits, and a few clutch long-balls, but the team could use some more guys on base throughout the game.
- Jack Wilson's bunt single in the 8th was beautiful. As unproductive as he has been at the plate the past two seasons, he still plays some brilliant small ball. It reminded me of a game last season when he knocked in a run with a two-out bunt single. That's just exciting. I am desperately rooting for him to have a decent season with the bat.
- Adam LaRoche will be okay in the long run. Maybe he will come alive at about the point Freddy Sanchez returns from the DL. That would be a nice lift to the lineup.
- I'll be honest, I wasn't as high on Snell at the end of 2006 as most people seemed to be. I thought he was getting a bit too much credit for his win total from a year ago. But he has been dominant since the very beginning of spring training. I am definitely a believer after watching him throw last night.
- Xavier Nady was called a platoon player by many people this offseason. Most didn't think he had the power to hold down a corner outfield position. We are only two games into the season, but he seems determined to show a bit more pop than he did upon joining the Bucs in 2006. If that continues, the Pirates' offense might surprise some people.
- From ESPN.com: "In the 132-year history of Major League Baseball, the Pirates' win marks only the second time that a team has started a season with a pair of road wins in which it trailed going into the eighth inning." We are making history, folks.