Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pirates' power surge drops Marlins

The Pirates brought their big boy sticks to the park last night, and the result was a 7-5 victory over the Marlins in ten innings. The Bucs built a 5-3 lead through five innings, led by home runs by Jose Bautista and Xavier Nady. However, the Marlins chipped away against the Pirates' bullpen and tied the game at five in the eighth. As the game crept into extra innings, Pirate fans had to be thinking, "Here we go again." Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay went down quickly in the top of the tenth, bringing Xavier Nady to the plate. Nady was 2 for 4 with a home run and two strikeouts to that point. He got a first-pitch fastball from Florida closer Kevin Gregg, and hammered it into the right-center field seats for his second home run of the game. Ryan Doumit followed with a line shot over the right field fence, and the Pirates took a two-run lead into the bottom of the tenth inning. Matt Capps recorded three quick outs for his seventh save, and the Pirates took the game.

A few thoughts:
  • I only caught the first couple of innings of this one, but I went back and watched the tenth inning on DVR. Maybe it was the empty stadium. Maybe Greg Brown was tired and unable to produce his usual super enthusiasm. Maybe I was half asleep as I watched the game's conclusion at around 12:30 AM. But whatever the reason, this seemed like a relaxed team as they slapped hands after the game. Like they expected to win, regardless of whether or not extra innings would be needed. Like they were used to winning games like that. Who knows what they were thinking? But the sooner this team stops pressing, the sooner the huge number of fundamental errors is reduced.
  • I am not sure if I wrote it on this site, but around mid-May I was about done with Xavier Nady. On May 15, he was hitting .240/.284/.400 with four home runs and only three walks. Ryan Doumit was hot, and I wondered why we kept putting Nady in right field. Well, starting on May 16, Nady has gone .311/.373/.563 with nine home runs and 12 walks. Overall, Nady is at .281/.336/.494 with a team-leading 13 home runs. Looks like I was wrong again. It has been infuriating for Pirate fans to watch Oliver Perez pitch so well this season, and I totally agree that it was asinine to give him up in that trade. But keep in mind that the Pirates would be the worst team in Major League Baseball right now without Xavier Nady.

The Pirates are going for the sweep right now in Florida. Zach Duke is throwing for the Pirates, with Scott Olsen going for the Marlins. The Pirates are already trailing 4-0 after one inning. It sounds as Duke has been a victim of poor defense and some soft singles thus far. That sounds about right. On the other hand, Scott Olsen has struck out the first five Pirates he has faced. That also seems about right.

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