Jose Bautista started the party early, leading off the first inning with a home run - AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
The Pirates were embarrassed over the weekend in New York, and they desperately needed to release some frustration. Enter Kevin Millwood, he of the 7.57 ERA and 1.91 WHIP. Last night he helpfully aimed for Pirate bats, and the Bucs took advantage on their way to a 7-5 victory. Jose Bautista launched Millwood's first strike off the left field rotunda and the offense seemed to relax right away. They added two more on Adam LaRoche's double and Xavier Nady's single and led 3-0 after one inning. Nady led off the 4th with a bomb over the 410 sign and into the Pirates' bullpen. Not to be outdone, LaRoche led off the 5th by lining one into the Rangers' bullpen in left-center. Millwood looked absolutely terrible in this game. Zach Duke scattered 8 hits and was helped out by four double plays behind him. He tired a bit in the 6th, but finished with 6 innings pitched and 2 runs allowed to earn his third win of the season.
Jack Wilson sat for the second consecutive game, as Jose Castillo started at shortstop. It was nice to see Jim Tracy make a personnel decision based on performance. I do not expect Wilson to remain out of the lineup for long, but this at least sends a message that Jack needs to perform or other options could be used at short. Castillo made a decent pick on a tough hop, but otherwise was not tested much in the field.
Ronny Paulino was back on the field, though, and he looked completely lost out there. He looked particularly bad on his strikeout in the 5th, and heard about it a bit from the PNC Park crowd. He is stepping towards third base on every pitch, and has no chance of reaching anything on the outside corner. He looks like a little leaguer up there. On the plus side, it looks like somebody finally showed him how to hold a bat. I noticed that his arms were much less stiff as he waited for the pitch tonight. In the field he looked just as disinterested as in other recent games. On one Ranger strikeout, his throw to Jose Bautista at third bounced about ten feet short. Something has to be done with Paulino. Maybe Doumit needs to take over the catching duties for a while while Paulino clears his head.
Speaking of little league, what the heck were the Rangers doing tonight? They played like the Pirates usually do. Michael Young's error in the 4th was almost comical, and it led to an additional run for the Pirates. The Bucs scored another in the 6th on a wild pitch, and Bautista likely would have been out if Scott Feldman did not drop the ball. And Sammy Sosa's baserunning in the 5th was downright ridiculous. First he failed to score from second on a line drive off the center field wall. Then he did not attempt to score on a line-out to medium left field. With Jason Bay's arm, you have to score there. Zach Duke was able to end the inning by starting a 1-2-3 double play. That was a huge point in this game.
The bullpen tried to let the Rangers back into the game, but Capps eventually came in and shut the door in the 9th. Jim Tracy has to be at the end of his rope regarding his relievers.
Kudos to Dave Littlefield for appearing on the Pirates' postgame radio show to discuss the drafting of Daniel Moskos. Kudos to Rocco DeMaro for intelligently, yet respectfully, telling Littlefield almost exactly what most Pirate fans want to tell him right now. Kudos to Littlefield for talking mostly nonsense in response.
In non-Pirate news, congratulations to Justin Verlander on his no-hitter over Milwaukee last night. I watched a clip of the 9th inning, and he was just throwing filth at the Brewers. That's a special moment for the young kid.