PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Jeff Suppan | Box
His face was long afterward, too.
“Jim Tracy told us it was a very important game tonight, and I knew that,” Masumi Kuwata said in a hushed tone. “But I didn’t pitch well.”
The score was knotted at three after five, and the Pirates were hanging with the Brew Crew.
Until the seventh inning, that is:
Brewers seventh: Kuwata pitching. Paulino in as catcher. Graffanino singled to center. Villanueva sacrificed, pitcher Kuwata to second baseman Sanchez, Graffanino to second. Hart doubled to left, Graffanino scored. Hardy singled to left, Hart scored. On Paulino’s passed ball, Hardy to second. Braun struck out. Fielder was intentionally walked. Hall doubled to right, Hardy scored, Fielder to third. Jenkins was intentionally walked. Miller homered to left on a 1-1 count, Fielder scored, Hall scored, Jenkins scored. Wasdin pitching. Graffanino singled to left. Villanueva flied out to right fielder Nady.
“Yeah. … I’m really sorry. Very disappointed.” We’re sorry too, Masumi.
The Pirates lost game one of this all-important homestand, 10-3.
As one of the perks associated with being MVN’s director of baseball, I receive e-mails from John Shiffert. From what I can tell, John is a professor (of what, I do not know) and a baseball nut. He periodically sends out historical columns entitled “19 to 21: Baseball … Then and Now.”
To get an idea of John’s subject matter, check out his archives at Baseball Library.
In any case, this morning I received “19 to 21: No, thats not the number of years its been since the Pirates had a winning record, its Baseball … Then and Now.”
To cut to the chase, John summed up the Pirates’ problem succinctly:
Theres no sugar-coating this lineup, which is currently 14th in the National League in runs scored. The one legitimate star, Jason Bay, is hitting .262 and has an Adjusted OPS of 106 [compared to a baseline of 100]. The big off-season pick-up, Adam LaRoche, is at 91. The 2006 batting champ, Freddy Sanchez, despite hitting .301, is at 88. Jack Wilson, his 2004 season to the contrary, is still Jack Wilson. Among the regulars, only Xavier Nady (.278/.330/.480) is really doing much (112 OPS+). And you know what? Outside of Bays slump, this shouldnt come as any great shock.
And you know what? I’m not shocked.
The Pirates finished the first half with a 35-46 record because they scored fewer runs than their opponents. Notice that I did not say that they allowed more—they scored fewer.
This evening, we begin a stretch of seven games that could very well set the tone for the remainder of the 2007 season. The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs sit atop the NL Central. Win seven in a row, we’re alive. Lose seven in a row, we’re dead.
The bats need to come out tonight, and they need to stay out. A mediocre pitching staff allows us to, in theory, be competitive each and every game. But if we aren’t scoring more than a few runs, we’re not going to do much winning.