Saturday, June 30, 2007

Diary of a once sane man, part IV

Click here to read the first three installments of this series.

Jose Bautista is swarmed by his teammates - AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

For a brief moment, everything was perfect. There were no protests to plan, no fan disgust, no dumbfounding draft picks. There was no contemplation about a below average Major League roster, no fears about a barren farm system. At that moment, all I could do was take in the scene around me. Down on the field, grown men celebrated gleefully like innocent children. PNC Park, nearly filled, was electric. One row in front of me, a young boy waved his foam finger and threw his arms in the air in happiness. It was the first baseball game he had ever attended. I slapped hands with friends. I slapped hands with strangers. The Pirates had just completed a come-from-behind walk-off victory.* The noise was deafening as the Pirates finally began filtering towards the dugout. The crowd became quiet as the scoreboard began showing highlights of the game we had just witnessed. We cheered each play as if it had just happened. All was right in the world.

Slowly, the moment passed. People began sitting down, catching their breath, allowing the adrenaline to slowly drift out of them. Suddenly the lights went out, and the crowd prepared for a fireworks show. I looked around the park, studying 32,000 people in a light just strong enough to make them out. I was filled with joy, but I was also dreaming of what was possible. What if the Pirates found themselves in the playoffs some day? What if they were in contention in September? What if they were above .500 in July? What if the PNC Park atmosphere was like this every night? I glanced at my friends' faces. They were covered by smiles. I scanned the faces of strangers. Smiles everywhere.

Some day.

*This is why I will never boycott the Pirates. I will always attend games. I would not be able to leave a game early, even for a noble cause. I will not attend the game tonight, because I am not sure I would be able to walk away, even for one inning. If I turn my back, I might miss the greatest thing ever to happen in a baseball game. This team is too much a part of me, and no greedy owner or incompetent GM will ever take that away from me. They can have my nine dollars, but they will never keep me away from my team. I will do all I can to help raise awareness. But I will not turn my back on the Pirates. So for those of you that are protesting tonight, I wish you good luck. I appreciate and fully support your efforts. You are doing something that I could not possibly do. Thank you.

UPDATE (3:24 PM): Here are links to some of the top Pirate blogs and their take on the walkout:

Bucs Dugout
The Parrot
Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bucco comeback falls short

Zach Duke struggled through another start this afternoon - AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

Zach Duke was hit hard in the final game of the road trip, and the Pirates lost to the Marlins this afternoon, 9-7. Duke was immediately tagged for four runs in the first and ultimately pitched four innings, allowing six runs on 12 hits. Next came Tony Armas, who allowed another two runs in his two innings of work. Adam LaRoche homered in the fourth, but the Bucs still trailed 8-2 entering the seventh inning. This game was over. It was time for the Pirates to roll over and go down quickly and easily. Ronny Paulino led off the seventh with a double. He scored on Jose Castillo's double. Josh Phelps pinch hit and walked. One out later, Jose Bautista singled in Castillo. Freddy Sanchez doubled in Rajai Davis. Bautista scored on Jason Bay's groundout. Xavier Nady singled, plating Sanchez. LaRoche doubled. Finally, Paulino flew out to end the inning. One inning, five runs, and suddenly the Pirates trailed just 8-7. The Bucs were on the verge of a huge come-from-behind victory, one that would complete a sweep and give the team some momentum as they returned home for a ten-game homestand.

But it was not to be. With two on and one out in the eighth, Bautista hit into a double play. A Duffy misplay in the bottom of the inning led to an insurance run, and Kevin Gregg closed things down in the ninth. The Pirates failed to finish the sweep, and Zach Duke pitched poorly yet again. The Bucs' record on the road trip was 3-6. They return home tomorrow to face the Nationals.

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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pirates defeat Marlins, 3-2

The Pirates took a day off after getting pushed around out west, then defeated the Marlins last night by a score of 3-2. I didn't see the game, but it seemed as if the Pirates played fundamentally sound baseball. Paul Maholm went 7.2 innings, allowing only two runs on three hits. He retired 15 consecutive Marlins after Dan Uggla's third inning home run. The bullpen came into the game and retired four straight batters with a one-run lead. The offense did not do much, but they did scrape together three runs. This was enough considering the way Maholm was pitching. The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the second with four straight singles and a sacrifice fly. In the fourth inning, Jack Wilson broke a 2-2 tie with a solo home run. This was a nice win for the Pirates, as they try to rebound after another disastrous week of baseball.

Before the game, Ian Snell provided us with another great quote. Snell was asked to consider that the Pirates are not underachieving this season, but simply lack the necessary talent to win consistently. He responded by saying, "Seriously, you can tell anyone who says that to go shove it." You've gotta love this guy.

The Pirates and Marlins go at it again tonight at 7:05. John Van Benschoten will go for the Pirates, Sergio Mitre for the Marlins.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We are Pirate fans and it is June

The Pirates hit another low point over the weekend, as they were swept by the Angels and fell to 31-44, 12.5 games back in the NL Central. I have often debated with myself as to what type of loss hurts more, the heartbreaking one-run loss or the complete blowout. Well, we were treated to the best of both worlds in this series, losing one game 10-1 and the other two in extra innings. The Bucs have now lost five in a row and are 1-5 on the current road trip. Of course, we are used to this. It seems to happen every June. But it seems as if people are nearing their breaking points this season. The Pirates' current slide has led the majority of people to depression, anger, protest attempts and others are simply assessing the current situation and looking to build a better future. Even Pirate players are letting their frustration show (from the PG):

"I [expletive] hate this," [Ian Snell] said at his stall, his voice rising. "And you can put that in the paper. I [expletive] hate losing. I hate when the team doesn't bring out its full potential. And if they fine me, fine me. I don't care. Because this is getting stupid. We're better than what we're showing."

Ian Snell - AP Photo/Chris Carlson

These are the kinds of statements we should hear coming out of the Pirate locker room on a nightly basis. I think the fans are more frustrated this season because it does not seem as if players even care about winning. It is one thing to watch the Pirates lose. It is something altogether different to watch them lose because Ronny Paulino does not seem interested in any extraneous movement. It is even more frustrating to watch him walk out to home plate night after night, regardless of how he plays. I have said it before, I'll say it again: the Pirates should be pissed off because of all the losing, and they need to play with a chip on their shoulder if there is any chance to right the ship. That kind of attitude is what makes Ian Snell so good.

There was talk of a players-only meeting before Sunday's game, but it did not occur due to the early game. Hopefully, the team used the free time on Monday constructively. Tonight, the Pirates visit the Florida Marlins. Paul Maholm will pitch for the Pirates, and Dontrelle Willis will take the mound for the Marlins. Willis has struggled his past few outings, and had this start pushed back two days due to a tight forearm. We all know what happens when a struggling starter faces the Pirates. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pirates claim Phelps

The Pirates claimed Josh Phelps off waivers from the Yankees today. Phelps, a 29 year-old first baseman/catcher, hit .263/.330/.363 in 80 at-bats for New York this season. His performance has been up and down during part-time opportunities since 2002. Phelps spent all of 2006 with Toledo, Detroit's Triple-A affiliate, posting a line of .308/.370/.532.

Josh Phelps Baseball Cube
Josh Phelps Baseball-Reference

Pirates shut out again

After the Pirates were shut out by Jeff Weaver, what did you expect them to do against one of the better young arms in the Majors? Felix Hernandez has struggled a bit recently, but last night he found the perfect remedy in the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hernandez pitched eight shutout innings in defeating the Bucs 3-0, as the Pirates' scoreless streak was extended to 20 innings. John Van Benschoten was solid for the second straight outing, but his three runs allowed in five innings were too much for the Bucs' offense to overcome. The bullpen was unusually stable, throwing three scoreless innings after Van Benschoten's departure. Masumi Kuwata led the charge, striking out four Mariners in two innings. Jonah Bayliss also pitched a scoreless inning.

After the game, the Pirates designated Dan Kolb for assignment and recalled Brad Eldred from Indianapolis. Apparently, since Eldred's consistent at-bats at Triple-A were not helping (.212 average), the Pirates figured they should let him sit on the Bucco bench for extended stretches again.

Tonight the Pirates are in Los Angeles to face the Mighty Angels of Anaheim. Jered Weaver, possibly worried that he could not match his brother's performance against the Pirates, will miss his scheduled start. Joe Saunders was recalled from Triple-A to take his place. Being a Pirate fan, pitchers just called up from Triple-A scare me to death. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


AP Photo/Andrei Pungovschi

The Pirates lost to the Mariners tonight by the score of 7-0. Jeff Weaver threw a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits. Yes, that Jeff Weaver. The Jeff Weaver with a double-digit ERA. I don't even know what to say.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pirates win out west

Tom Gorzelanny had another quality start and beat the Mariners last night - AP Photo/John Froschauer

The Pirates started their road trip off right, defeating the Mariners 5-3 last night in Seattle. Jim Tracy left Tom Gorzelanny in the game as long as possible (123 pitches), then turned things over to his shaky bullpen. Five pitchers were used in the final two innings, as Tracy's hook was extremely quick. Masumi Kuwata diffused an eighth inning rally and Shawn Chacon struck out the final two batters to earn the save. The Pirates' offense was not great, but they managed to put five runs on the board and get the victory. I only saw the first few innings of this game, so I will not comment any further.

Tonight the Pirate hitters have a chance to have some fun, as Jeff Weaver will be throwing for the Mariners. Weaver is 0-6 with a 10.97 ERA, an ERA+ of 39, and a WHIP of 2.19 in 2007. Those are absolutely terrible numbers, but he has pitched fairly well since returning to the rotation on June 9. He has posted an ERA of 3.60 in his two starts since that return. He did not receive a decision in his last start against the Cubs, but went six innings and allowed only three runs. Paul Maholm (3-9, 5.00 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) will be on the mound for the Pirates. Maholm has also been throwing well recently, specifically his past five starts. Maholm's numbers would look much better, but he has been let down by his defense in many of his outings. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 PM.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pirates at Mariners, 10:05 PM

The Mariners prepare for the Pirates' arrival - AP Photo/Jessica Kourkounis

The Pirates begin a three-game series with the Mariners tonight in Seattle. Tom Gorzelanny will take the mound for the Bucs, with Miguel Batista going for Seattle. This game begins at 10:05, which means I must decide between watching the game and sleeping for more than four hours. If you don't see any posts from me tomorrow, you'll know what I chose.

Expect to see the Pirates win by a comfortable margin tonight, only to have Seattle fans complain about the umpire's strike zone for the rest of their lives. (Yes, I will take shots at Seahawk fans, despite the fact that I am still bitter about the Joe Nedney game from January 2003 and the Tony Randazzo call in June 2005. No, I don't care whether or not that is fair.)

Brian O'Neill has an interesting article in today's Post-Gazette, as he looks at the Pirate infield issue. The Pirates currently have four players (Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Jose Bautista, and Jose Castillo) to play three positions (second, short, and third). The problem is that the two best fielders are the two worst hitters and vice versa. Offensively, the best infield includes Bautista, Sanchez, and either Wilson or Castillo. Defensively, the best alignment would be Castillo at second, Wilson at short, and either Bautista or Sanchez at third. Bautista and Sanchez have both been red-hot at the plate, making it difficult to remove either of them. However, Freddy's lack of range at second has really hurt the team this year. It does not help that the Pirates' rotation includes several groundball pitchers who do not strike many batters out. This is something I have been mulling over for several weeks, and I still do not have a satisfying answer.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What did we expect?

The Pirates are busy traveling across the country, so we need something to talk about. I figured I would take a look at some Pirates that are playing above expectations in 2007 and some that have been disappointments.

Jose Bautista - AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Pleasant Surprises
  • Jose Bautista - Bautista is hitting .282/.360/.448, and has really excelled since being placed in the leadoff spot of the order. When batting first in 2007, Bautista has a line of .326/.408/.535. He attempted to shorten his swing this season in an effort to cut down on his high number of strikeouts. That effort has been successful, with his K% dropping from from 27.5% in 2006 to 16.9% this year. Early in the season, this new approach seemed to rob Bautista of some home run power, but that seems to be returning slowly. After hitting one home run in April and two in May, Bautista already has three in June. He also leads the Pirates with 21 doubles. Overall his defense has been solid, despite some inconsistencies in the past month or so.
  • Tom Gorzelanny - Gorzelanny struggled in spring training, and many felt he should be returned to Triple-A to start the season. However, Jim Tracy kept him in Pittsburgh and that decision has paid tremendous dividends. Gorzelanny has gone 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA and a WHIP of 1.27. His ERA is currently seventh lowest in the National League, and his win total would be much higher if he could receive some additional run support. The Pirates have scored a total of two runs in Gorzelanny's four losses. Late in spring training, Gorzelanny assured the Pittsburgh media that everything would be different when the lights came on for the 2007 regular season. He has backed up his words with his performance this season.
  • Ryan Doumit - It could be explained by a small sample size, but Doumit has been one of the Pirates' best hitters in 2007. He only has 128 at-bats due to beginning the season at Triple-A, but he has put up a line of .328/.377/.508 during that time. Despite the fact that his .885 OPS is higher than any Pirate not name Matt Capps, Doumit still has struggled to get on the field for one of the worst offenses in Major League Baseball. I don't know?


  • Adam LaRoche - Many Pirate fans saw LaRoche as the Pirates' savior in 2007. His 32 home runs and .915 OPS would be a welcome addition to the Pirates' lineup. Well, it has not quite worked out that way. LaRoche is currently hitting .223/.314/.393. There are reasons for optimism, such as his 31 walks and timely hits (currently .306/.416/.435 with runners in scoring position). Also, LaRoche is known as a slow starter that heats up with the weather. In fact, his 2006 numbers through June 17 were not that far off from his current stats (.243/.330/.480). Nevertheless, his production has been well below expectations and has hurt the Pirates the first few months of the season.
  • Zach Duke - Duke was strong in the second half of 2006, and it appeared that he was beyond his pre-2006 All Star break struggles. However, after starting the season well, Duke has been very hittable again in 2007. He is 3-6 with a 5.68 ERA and a WHIP of 1.65 thus far, and his opponent OPS is at a frightening .916. Opposing hitters have seemed very comfortable facing Duke, as his strikeout numbers have gone way down to 2.89 K/9 innings. It has been difficult to diagnose what is wrong with Duke, beyond his lack of overpowering stuff. It is possible that he is tipping his pitches. It is also possible that he has failed to make the necessary adjustments to get Major League hitters out. Whatever the cause, Duke, who as recently as last year was considered the Pirates ace of the future, is likely at a career crossroads.
  • Freddy Sanchez - It is a general expectation that a batting champion's numbers will drop dramatically the following season. Regardless, the Pirates were hoping for more from Sanchez in 2007. His line is at .296/.333/.366, marking a drop off of over 150 OPS points from last season. Much of that is a result of his lack of extra-base hits, as last year's Major League doubles leader has only 12 to this point. Freddy has also hurt the team defensively, as his poor range at second base has allowed many extra runners onto the bases. Much of this can be attributed to missing virtually all of spring training and returning without an extended minor league rehab assignment. To be fair, Freddy's play has improved recently, both offensively (.884 OPS in June) and defensively. If Sanchez and LaRoche get hot in the second half of the season, and Nady and Bautista continue to have success, the Pirates could win quite a few games the rest of the way.

That's what we do on this site. We finish with a post with a little delusional optimism.

EDIT (3:45 PM): Here are some links if you are interested in what the individual expectations were before the season started:

  • Bucs Dugout - Community Projections
  • ZiPs Projections
  • Saturday, June 16, 2007

    Jack Flash returns

    Jack Wilson was all over the field Friday night - AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

    The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Chicago White Sox last night, 4-2. Paul Maholm, after struggling through the first inning, held the Sox to one run on three hits over seven innings. Much of that is likely due to the White Sox terrible offense, but Maholm did look pretty sharp after the rough first inning.

    Xavier Nady came up with another clutch hit, doubling in two runs with two outs in the first inning. Yes, I was one of those people demanding a Nady/Doumit platoon in right a month ago. Doumit still needs to get in the lineup more often, but Nady now has a higher OPS than Jason Bay. His OPS against right-handed pitchers is now a very respectable .790. This guy has become an integral part of the Pirates offense.

    A few days on the bench might have been exactly what Jack Wilson needed. He looked rejuvenated at the plate, setting up each of the final two Pirate runs. We also saw the Jack Wilson of 2005 in the field. The play he made in the eighth inning, ranging far to his right and throwing across his body to first, was one of the best plays I have seen him make. The play really energized the crowd, setting up for an electric atmosphere in the ninth.

    Watching Jack and Castillo play defensively in this game, it becomes painfully obvious how much Sanchez is hurting the Pirates at second base. Castillo made at least two plays last night that Freddy probably does not, including the start of a nice looking double play to end the sixth. You have to keep Bautista on the field, so what do you do? Is Freddy's additional offensive production over Castillo enough to warrant giving up so many additional runs because of his defense? Right now, Freddy's OPS is an even .700, while Castillo's is .664. Are the Pirates bold enough to put the defending batting champion on the bench? Of course not. But maybe they should. Or, as Rocco DeMarro mentioned on the post-game show last night, maybe they should consider moving Bautista to the outfield and Sanchez back to third. I don't know, I don't have an answer. But it sure was fun to watch Jack and Castillo locking down the middle infield again.

    Matt Capps did not look sharp in this game. He hit a batter and walked two others, one of which brought home a run. By the way, did Major League Baseball forget about his pending suspension?

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Loe shuts down Pirate bats

    Tom Gorzelanny plays catcher - AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

    As I previously stated, the Pirates held a huge advantage in the pitching matchup last night at PNC Park. Tom Gorzelanny (2.76 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) went against Kameron Loe (7.40 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), with Loe fresh off a demotion to Triple-A. Well, you never know with the Pirates. After battering Texas hurlers in the first two games of the series, the Bucs' bats suddenly went quiet against a guy who had allowed nine runs in 2.2 innings in his previous Major League start on June 7. The Rangers won, 6-0.

    To be fair, Loe looked very sharp in this game. He hit his spots and kept the Pirates off balance all night. His sinker must have been dropping dramatically, as Pirate hitters continuously pounded the ball into the ground. You have to tip your cap to him.

    Tom Gorzelanny did not pitch as poorly as his final line shows. He was solid through six innings, allowing only two solid home runs. Gorzo clearly did not have his best stuff in this game, as he missed his spots repeatedly. His breaking ball seemed especially inefficient, staying up and away to right-handed batters several times. But he battled through the difficulties and kept the game close for six innings. Not that it mattered. With the way the Pirates were hitting, the game was over as soon as Jerry Hairston homered in the first. The Pirates have now scored a grand total of two runs in Gorzelanny's four losses. That's pretty deflating for a young pitcher.

    Jose Castillo again started at short, and went 0 for 2 with a walk. In addition, he looked a bit shaky in the field on a few occasions. He did not really make any mistakes, but looked like a guy that is playing out of position. If I were a betting man, I would guess that we will see Jack Wilson start at shortstop at some point this weekend.

    Dan Kolb is not the answer for the bullpen. While the box score tells me that he threw 12 of his 23 pitches for strikes, it seemed like he only got about four pitches anywhere near the plate. I would not want him on the mound in an important situation. Of course, it was only one inning, and I am usually wrong about most things.

    By the way, wouldn't you agree that the best way to end a game in which you have been shut out is with two slow rollers and a pop-up? By the middle of your order. Nothing like going down without a fight.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Rangers at Pirates, 7:05 PM

    The Pirates will go for the sweep tonight against the Rangers, as Tom Gorzelanny (2.76 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) faces off against Kameron Loe (7.40 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), who will be recalled from Triple-A to make the start. This is another huge mismatch on the mound, as the Rangers send out another starter who has been awful so far this season.

    Jose Castillo has had a hop in his step the past three games - Matt Freed, Post-Gazette

    I would expect to see Jose Castillo back at short for the Pirates, as he had another solid game at the plate last night. To be honest, the Pirates may have been extremely smart with the way they handled Castillo this season. He was the obvious starter for three seasons, but his great potential never progressed into performance. Maybe this was due to a lack of motivation, as the starting spot at second was clearly his. Maybe not. But the Pirates sent a message by mostly sitting him late last season and then keeping him on the bench for the first two months of 2007. Jose had to be sitting there, watching the team play, wondering if he would ever get back on the field. Then he gets a spot start at short and plays well, including a brilliant defensive play. Then he is in the lineup again the next game. And the next. Now Castillo sees that if he performs, he will get the opportunity to play. He has clearly recognized that, and he is playing with the fire and emotion that was so often missing last season. This is not the first time he has displayed that emotion this year, as I noted it during a start he made about a month ago. Castillo is playing as if he understands that it is a privilege to start in the Major Leagues, and he seems to have a greater appreciation for this opportunity to play than he had in his first three seasons in the league.

    Then again, it has only been three games. Hopefully he can continue to produce in the long-term.

    UPDATE (6:10 PM): The Pirates have sent Shawn Chacon back to the bullpen and will recall John Van Benschoten to start on Saturday. I'm not sure if this was done to stabilize the bullpen or because Chacon was shelled in New York. Either way, we will see what Van Benschoten can do in the Major League rotation. It makes me nervous. He was 6-4 at Indianapolis with a 2.73 ERA and a WHIP of 1.35. He struck out 45 and walked 30.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Rangers at Pirates, 7:05 PM

    I have some free time tonight, so I think I will do a semi-live blog for the game. I have not heard anything about a delay to this point, so I would assume Ian Snell will take the mound at 7:05. We'll see if the power stays on long enough for me to keep up.

    The big story tonight is that Jose Castillo is starting at shortstop again. It looks like Jim Tracy is going with the player that will help his team the most. That is encouraging.

    7:10 - The game is currently being delayed due to weather conditions.

    7:15 - According to the trusty radar, the rain is nearly past Pittsburgh. My superior meteorology skills are not capable of judging lightning, though, so we'll see if that's a factor.

    7:36 - Ian Snell throws the first pitch. Kenny Lofton fouls out to third to get the game started.

    7:42 - Snell walked one, but besides that he was sharp. He struck out the final two batters looking. Now it is time to tee off on Robinson Tejeda.

    7:49 - It looks like the Rangers brought their peewee gloves again. Duffy's soft liner to first hits right off Brad Wilkerson's glove to put runners at first and third. Sanchez jumps on one and hits a book-rule double to center. 1-0 Pirates, still nobody out.

    7:52 - 2-0 Pirates on Bay's RBI ground out.

    8:00 - Single to center on a fairly tough play that Castillo should have made. Double play would have been tough, but we need at least one out on that play. But Snell makes quick work of Vazquez and does the same with Tejeda. Four K's for Snell through two innings, and the Pirates still lead 2-0.

    8:06 - Castillo singles to right. If he consistently goes the other way and puts up some decent numbers offensively, I would not mind him at short. The slight defensive drop-off with Wilson on the bench would be worth it if there is some offense coming out of that position.

    8:10 - Bautista with another hit, the Rangers with another error. No wonder their record is so bad. They look terrible.

    8:11 - A pop fly almost drops in due to poor communication by Rangers' fielders. This looks familiar.

    8:21 - Great job by Snell to get out of the inning without allowing a run. That double play probably is not turned with Jack at short. Castillo has some kind of arm on him.

    8:26 - Lousy at-bat from Bay.

    8:28 - "It was 96 coming in, about 98 going out." This quote is from Bob Walk regarding a Tejeda pitch that LaRoche lined into right field. I hate when analysts just say stuff without any reason to believe that they are correct.

    8:37 - Very fine defensive play by Jose Bautista. Fifty bucks says he was just awarded the "Innovative Play of the Game" at the ballpark.

    8:44 - Tejeda walks Snell. Not a smart move.

    8:59 - The Pirates are playing some pretty sharp defense tonight, aside from the misplay by Castillo. Snell has thrown five shutout innings and seems to be getting stronger.

    9:02 - For the second consecutive night, the Rangers' starting pitcher fails to pitch five innings. I almost feel bad for them. Wait, no I don't.

    9:06 - Another hit for Jose Castillo. He is making it difficult for Tracy to sit him down. By the way, if Nady can't run full speed, why is he playing? I know he is hitting well, but that could turn into a nagging season-long injury. It's been bothering him for like a month now, and he still hasn't even hit the DL. I don't think Tracy understands the concept of a hamstring injury.

    9:11 - Bautista is locked in at the plate. 7-0 Pirates, and Bautista is now a home run away from the cycle.

    9:12 - What the heck are the Rangers doing? Their defense is a mess. 8-0 Pirates.

    9:15 - And there's your daily dose of poor Pirates' baserunning.

    9:20 - It looks like I spoke too soon about the Pirates defense. Snell is not getting any help this inning.

    9:22 - Bautista redeems himself and starts an inning ending double play.

    9:46 - Greg Brown and Bob Walk have no idea what to do when the Pirates are up big. I think they have totally lost their minds.

    9:53 - Ian Snell is still cruising. Bautista needs a home run leading off the eighth for the cycle.

    9:57 - Bautista will not hit for the cycle tonight, as he lines out to center. Unless Tracy goes to the bullpen. Then we might have to go extra innings.

    9:59 - If Sanchez could lay off that pitch six inches off the plate, he could put up a silly OBP. That's where his amazing contact ability hurts him. He knows he can put it in play and he refuses to take any close pitches with two strikes.

    10:06 - I don't care how inept the opponent is, an 8-1 win is always fun. Ian Snell threw like an ace, pitching his first career complete game and allowing only an unearned run. Bautista and Castillo both hit well. Expect Castillo to start at short again tomorrow, as Jack Wilson's spot in the lineup is definitely in jeopardy. I am off to bed now. The Bucs go for the sweep tomorrow night.


    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.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    The Rangers come to town

    Prince Fielder rounds the bases as Vicente Padilla stares into the distance - AP Photo/LM Otero

    Interleague play continues tonight, as the Pirates welcome the Texas Rangers to PNC Park. Our Bucs were swept by the Yankees over the weekend in their first interleague series of 2007. For those of you keeping track at home, the Pirates are now 10-32 against the American League since the beginning of the 2004 season. Ouch.

    The Rangers come to town boasting a Major League worst 23-40 record. Their offense is average (.322 OBP, .420 SLG) and their pitching is terrible (5.48 ERA, 1.57 WHIP). The Pirates are struggling right now and the season looks as if it might free-fall out of control at any moment. A series with the Rangers seems like the perfect elixir for what ails the Bucs. A couple of solid wins (or something ridiculous like a sweep) would go a long way towards healing some painful wounds from this past weekend. That would help build some confidence, and with the White Sox bringing their woeful offense into town this weekend, could help salvage what seems like a lost season right now.

    Or, as Pat points out, this could simply be a repeat of the embarrassing series with the Royals last season. Either way, this might be the most critical point of the season.

    Tonight it is Zach Duke (2-6, 5.75 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) facing Kevin Millwood (2-5, 7.57 ERA, 1.91 WHIP). I predict a final score of 13-10. The Bucs will come out on top with the bullpen coming up huge, only allowing four runs after Zach Duke leaves in the 6th inning.

    Monday, June 11, 2007


    Jim Tracy removes Shawn Chacon and wonders which relievers actually know that there is a game in progress - AP Photo/Kathy Willens

    It is official: the Pirates' bullpen is completely in shambles. Salomon Torres has struggled this season, but his trip to the DL leaves only Matt Capps and Damaso Marte as reliable relievers. Capps (2.78 ERA) has been excellent and Marte (1.33) has been solid in his role of LOOGY. The rest of the pen is downright scary. Tony Armas (8.07), Jonah Bayliss (7.16), John Grabow (5.29), Masumi Kuwata (9.00), and Josh Sharpless (12.46) are the remaining relievers on the active roster. I just vomited a little into my lap. When Capps serves his suspension, only Marte (again, a left-handed specialist) will have an ERA under 5.00. Jim Tracy might be forced to allow his starters to throw 175 pitches per game. What other choice will he have? Just look at these numbers. The Pirates are in major trouble.

    Diary of a once sane man, part III

    I have decided to make this a semi-regular feature on this blog. It will be in a journal-style format, and will chronicle some of my more painful moments as a Pirate fan. These may be some of my deepest, most honest thoughts. Or maybe this whole thing is for entertainment only. I will let you decide for yourself. To be honest, I'm not actually sure which is true. Here are the posts that started this feature if you are interested.

    Derek Jeter scores as Ronny Paulino drops another throw - Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Saturday night in New York City. The Big Apple. Around 8:30, I emerged from a restaurant in Chinatown with five of my closest friends and began the ritual of wandering around aimlessly searching for a subway station. Some time later, we emerged from a subway train at the Times Square stop. We paused for several minutes to take in a break dancing show, then emerged at the surface on 42nd Street. All around us, people were scurrying to get somewhere. After a short time, my friends decided to catch a movie. I abstained, choosing instead to roam the streets. About an hour into my trek, I glanced inside a TGI Friday’s and spotted the Yankees on the television at the bar. Suspecting that it was a replay of the game I had missed earlier in the afternoon, I ducked inside to have a drink. As I was settling onto a stool, I watched a Pirates’ hitter ground into a fielder’s choice. Something was unusual about that play. And why was Kevin Brown pitching for the Yankees? Then I realized what was strange about the groundout. Matt Lawton had been the hitter. I was watching a replay of a game from 2005. As I sat there, it became painfully obvious what I was watching. This was the Tony Randazzo debacle that ruined any hope for the 2005 season.

    Maybe it was another poor first round draft pick. Maybe it was the realization that our team is no better than it was in June 2005. Most likely, it was the similarity between the game I was watching and the one I had just witnessed the night before. Whatever the reason, it suddenly hit me. The Pirates are screwed. They have three guys on the roster with an OPS over .800. Five of our starting eight position players have an OPS under .700. Our defense is average on a good day and agonizingly defective the rest of the time. Only two starting pitchers are having any success at the Major League level. The bullpen has been terrible, and the stock of young relievers that Dave Littlefield spent years building has been of no assistance. There is very little help in the minors, on offense or on the mound. We are selecting relievers with little upside fourth overall in the draft. With competent management, this team can be competitive in a couple of years. We all know that the Pirates do not have competent management. I ordered another drink.

    The bar was closing as Randazzo ruled Gary Sheffield safe at first. I left before the Yankees completed their comeback. Depressed, I wandered back to the movie theater. Before long, my friends emerged and we caught the subway back uptown.

    The Tony Randazzo loss on June 15, 2005 sent the Pirates into a tailspin from which they never recovered. The Pirates have not won since Derek Jeter’s roller ended Friday’s game. Most likely, this season is about to spiral out of control. But I will be at PNC Park tomorrow night. I will expect a victory, regardless of the probability that one might occur. Some day, the Pirates will be the champions of baseball. It might not be this year, it might not be this decade, it might not be until I am an elderly man. But no matter how long it takes, I will be there. And I will be celebrating.

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Pirates fall to Yankees in 10 innings as Jeter "smokes" single

    Derek Jeter's infield single sunk the Pirates on Friday night - AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

    Through five innings, Tom Gorzelanny was outpitching Andy Pettitte and the Pirates held a 2-0 lead over the Yankees. The offense to that point had been provided by Xavier Nady's solo home run and Jack Wilson's RBI single. The Pirates were playing very well in the field, highlighted by a sparkling bare-handed play by Jack Wilson. The bleachers at Yankee Stadium was a good place to be for a Pirate fan. In the 6th, Gorzelanny began to tire. His pitches were staying up in the zone, and Hideki Matsui took advantage with a game-tying two-run home run to right. Gorzelanny's pitch count was approaching 100, and I began looking nervously at the Pirate bullpen. I did not see anyone that made me feel very confident, but I knew Gorzelanny was going to need help soon. He finished off the 6th inning, and the Pirates' offense came to his aid in the top of the 7th. With two outs and a man at second, Chris Duffy lined a 2-2 pitch sharply at centerfielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera started in and was unable to recover as the ball sailed over his outstretched glove. With Duffy running and Cabrera on the ground after his failed attempt at the catch, it went for an easy inside-the-park home run. That gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead and Gorzelanny again had a small cushion.

    But Miguel Cairo immediately doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning, and the Yankees were in business again. At this point, Jim Tracy should have gone straight to the mound and removed Gorzelanny. His pitch count was over 100 and he was being hit hard. But Tracy stayed in the dugout. I guess he had as much confidence in the bullpen as I did. Two batters later, the Yankees had pulled within one on a Derek Jeter single and Gorzelanny was finished. John Grabow and Salomon Torres combined to hit one batter and allow two singles to tie the game. Damaso Marte entered the game with the bases loaded, one out, and a 4-4 score. He came up huge, striking out Hideki Matsui on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. He followed that up with another extended battle with Robinson Cano. On the tenth pitch, he induced a fly-out to center. Marte's performance kept the Bucs in this game when one bad pitch could have put it out of reach for the Yankees. A tip of the cap to him.

    Jonah Bayliss and Matt Capps kept the Yankees quiet through the 9th inning, but the Pirates' bats could not push any runs across as the game went into extra innings. Matt Capps stayed in the game in the 10th, marking the second consecutive game he would pitch two innings. Three pitches into the inning, there were runners at first and third with one out. When Capps fell behind Johnny Damon 2-0, the Pirates intentionally walked him to load the bases for Derek Jeter. After a foul ball, Jeter rolled one slowly to the right side of the infield. Freddy Sanchez desperately attempted a bare-handed play, but could not get a handle on the ball. It was probably irrelevant, as he likely did not have a play at home even if he picked it up cleanly. The infield single gave the Yankees the 5-4 victory.

    Observations from Yankee Stadium:
    • Wearing a Pirate jersey into Yankee Stadium, I was expecting terrible treatment from the Yankee faithful. I was expecting to be spit on, and maybe have a foreign object or two thrown my way. Maybe it is difficult to get too excited when you are playing the Pirates. Maybe Yankee fans have lost some enthusiasm with their slow start. Maybe it was the alcohol-free section in which I was sitting. But the New York treatment was almost friendly. I don't think I even heard any foul language directed toward myself or any of the friends I attended with. Actually, while inside the stadium, barely anybody talked to us. There was some friendly banter on the subway before and after the game and a couple of non-threatening comments as we walked through Harlem. But that was it. I have been treated worse at the Great American Ballpark for a Pirates-Reds game. Of course...
    • Surprisingly, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by Pirate fans in my section. I celebrated with a guy in a Van Slyke jersey sitting behind me. The Capps Crew was just a few rows away. It almost felt like home.
    • On the subway before the game, I overheard a couple of guys in Yankee jerseys discussing Roger Clemens. I got the impression that they wished the Yankees would just keep Clemens in the minors all season so that they could pay him his minor league salary. If Yankee fans are not excited about Clemens this season, who is?
    • At one point during the game, my friend left for some food. Several innings later she returned, reporting that the person in line in front of her had ordered 54 hot dogs and 54 drinks. Wow.
    • PNC Park and Yankee Stadium are completely different worlds. Every Pirate fan should go see a game there just to observe the electric atmosphere.
    • I can't remember the last away game I have gone to in which we have won. Out of town losses are the worst.

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Pirates defeat Nationals, draft yet another college pitcher

    The Pirates drafted Clemson left-handed pitcher Daniel Moskos in the first round of the 2007 draft. Yes that's right, they have not learned their lesson. This frustrates me enough that I don't feel like talking about it, especially since it's 1:00 AM. Here's a few links to some info on Moskos.

    The Pirates defeated the Nationals today, 3-2. Ian Snell produced another quality start and Freddy Sanchez knocked in two with his first home run of the season. The score was tied at two entering the 9th, but Jason Bay took care of that. He led off the inning with an opposite field home run, and Matt Capps secured the victory with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th. Capps pitched two innings today due to his upcoming suspension, and retired all six batters he faced.

    The Pirates visit Yankee Stadium on Friday night to kick off three games with the Bronx Bombers. A sweep of the hated Yankees would be a real lift to my weekend.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Pirates fall to Nationals, 6-5

    The Nationals celebrate their victory Wednesday night - Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    This game had all the ingredients for a Pirate loss, from poor offense in the first half of the game, to a late comeback attempt, all the way to the wild pitch that allowed the winning run to score in the 9th. We as Pirate fans have seen it before.

    But the biggest reason for this loss was poor defensive play by middle infielders Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. With one out in the 1st inning, Sanchez misplayed a Cristian Guzman ground ball, allowing Guzman to reach base. The next batter bounced to short, but Sanchez was slow on the turn and could not complete the double play. Thus, the inning continued and the Nationals scored one run. With the Pirates down 2-1 in the 5th, Zach Duke faced a bases loaded, one out situation. He did his job, inducing a ground ball to short. This time, Wilson bobbled the double play ball, leading to three more runs. Zach Duke pitched well today, but his defense let him down.

    Adam LaRoche hit a game-tying three-run home run in the 8th inning, but a wild pitch from Salomon Torres in the 9th gave the Nationals the victory.

    I'm off to New York in the morning, and will be at Yankee Stadium for Friday's game. I am not sure whether I will have access to the internet during the trip, so I may not be posting for a few days. But I will provide a recap of Friday's game by the beginning of next week.

    Pirates hold on for 7-6 victory

    The Pirates stormed home plate on Xavier Nady's 3rd inning double - Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    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.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    I've seen this one before

    The scoreboard behind Derek Lowe tells the whole story - AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    If I were to write a script for a Pirates loss, it would read like this:
    1. Starting pitcher throws well through six innings, holding the opposition to just a couple of runs. In the 7th, he becomes fatigued and his pitches are being hit a bit harder. Jim Tracy arguably stays with this pitcher just a tad too long.
    2. As the game is slipping away from the Pirates in the 7th, a pivotal defensive play is not made. This play is not routine, but a good team generally gets the out.
    3. The opposing pitcher no-hits the Pirates into the 7th inning.
    4. I have always enjoyed "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, so we will add an option at this point. If you would like the Pirates to (a) go down easily over the final three innings, turn to page 201. They will manage only a two-out single in the 9th inning. If you would like the Pirates to (b) rally and attempt a comeback, turn to page 63. They will put up five runs, but will ultimately lose by one as the tying run is stranded at second base in the 9th inning.

    Pirates lose 6-5.

    After being no-hit for two-thirds of the game, Jim Tracy says that the Pirates had their chances to win. According to the skipper, "The one big hit that we need, it continues to avoid us." Maybe we just needed some base runners in the first six innings. I don't know. Maybe we need to stop sugarcoating things.

    Davis to join Pirates

    After the game, the Pirates designated Humberto Cota for assignment and recalled Rajai Davis from AAA Indianapolis. Davis is a 26 year-old centerfielder who was hitting .318 with the Indians this season. He has good speed with little power. Jim Tracy did not divulge how he will be used, but I expect this move will shorten the leash on Chris Duffy in center. They are similar players, and while I do not expect Davis to be any better than Duffy, management may be looking for some kind of spark for the offense. Hopefully, Bautista will remain in the lead off spot even if Duffy loses his starting job to Davis.

    Cota will be placed on waivers and can be claimed by another team or traded. If neither happens over the next ten days, he can accept an assignment to AAA or become a free agent.

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    Another meltdown

    The Pirate infield contemplates another bullpen failure as John Grabow warms up - AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    Maybe I should stop attending Pirate games. The last two times I have been to PNC Park, the Pirates have turned sure victory into heart-wrenching defeat. The last time it was a 7-1 lead turning into a 9-8 loss to the Diamondbacks. Yesterday, the Bucs blew a 4-0 lead and fell 5-4 to the Dodgers.

    Tom Gorzelanny was stellar again through six, but tired in the 7th inning. He finished with an official line of 6.2 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche provided most of the offense, as each belted solo home runs against Brad Penny. However, Salomon Torres allowed a two-run home run to Andre Ethier and the Dodgers' bullpen held the Pirates to only one single over the final three innings to preserve the victory.

    My thoughts:
    • In 2004-2006, Torres before the All-Star break: 3.82 ERA, 73/49 K/BB. In 2004-2006, Torres after the All-Star break: 1.88 ERA, 116/47 K/BB. Not much has changed this season.
    • One of my new favorite places to sit at PNC Park is any row in section 301, seat 1. It's a long way from the field, but the view to your right is excellent and there is a nice breeze off the river. I think that will be my spot for sweltering afternoon games.
    • Jason Bay is fun to watch when he is on one of these hot streaks. He is hitting everything right now.
    • Four days until I visit Yankee Stadium.