Ugly wins count the same as pretty wins. This is especially true for a team like the Pirates, which has trouble producing wins of any style. Last night was an ugly win, but the Bucs will take it.
The offense produced seven runs, with the big blow being Xavier Nady's three-run double in the 3rd. While you can make the argument that the opposing pitcher was less than stellar, that has not always been enough for the Pirates' offense in 2007. It was encouraging to see the Pirates take advantage of Mike Bacsik's wildness (42 strikes, 40 balls) by drawing five walks against him and seven overall for the game. The team must improve on its walk total (currently 28th in MLB), or the team OBP (currently .312) will remain well below respectable.
Shawn Chacon gave the Pirates what a fifth starter should be expected to provide. He went 5.1 innings and allowed four runs. The Marte/Bayliss/Grabow parade struggled, slowly allowing the Nationals back into the game. A blown call at home might have been the only thing that kept this trio from completely blowing the lead. However, Salomon Torres was lights out and Matt Capps produced his second easy save in as many appearances since being named the closer. That was the ideal way in which Jim Tracy envisions the 8th and 9th innings materializing when the Pirates hold a lead. It was especially encouraging to see Torres bounce back after a couple of poor performances. He was absolutely dominant in the 8th inning.
- Of the nine Pirates with the most plate appearances, five have an OPS under .700. Two of those (Adam LaRoche - .697, Freddy Sanchez - .687) are likely to bring those numbers up, as both have hit well since suffering through a dismal first month. But that still leaves some huge black holes in the starting lineup.
- Xavier Nady walked only one time in April. He added just three more in May. However, he has walked once in each of his past three games. Despite his complete lack of walks, Nady has an OPS of .822 this season. If he can improve his selection at the plate, he could become a solid middle of the order hitter.
- I'm glad that Tracy pulled Bautista from the lead off spot. It's not like he was doing well in that role or anything. Bautista has gone .316/.400/.491 when leading off this season, but he's not that fast. Who cares about on-base percentage anyway? Sigh.
- Fox Sports Pittsburgh sucked last night. If those problems persist longer than this one game, I will end up throwing a brick through my televesion. And then I'll really be screwed.