Game #94 vs. Rockies

PNC Park | 12:35 | Snell vs. Jeff Francis | Box

Jeff Francis held the Pirates to two runs through seven innings, the heart of the Pirates’ order went 2 for 12 with four strikeouts, and the Rockies finished off the series sweep, 5-3.
Ian Snell allowed 5 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings.  He allowed two home runs, one each to Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton, while striking out six batters.  Only two of his past five starts meet the quality standard.
Still, it was the same old song and dance.  The offense didn’t contribute (save solo shots from Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche), and so the Pirates were doomed from the outset.  We’d need to have a staff full of Cy Young candidates to have a chance to win consistently with our current lineup.
With a lefty on the hill, Rajai Davis and Ronny Paulino earned playing time.  Davis hit well (2 for 4) but made two outs on the basepaths (he was both picked off and caught stealing).  Paulino went 0 for 3 and stranded two runners.  Those who are clamoring for Ryan Doumit to become the everyday catcher would seem to have a valid argument.  Doumit might not be an All-Star, but he certainly is the more effective offensive player of the two.
The Pirates are off on Thursday before hosting Houston for a three-game set.  Roy Oswalt faces Tom Gorzelanny on Friday night.
Pre-game Thoughts
Early game thread for this businessman’s special.
After winning four consecutive series heading into the All-Star break, the Pirates are on the verge of being swept twice in a row. Taking the mound this afternoon will be Ian Snell, the Pirates’ best bet to fill the stopper role.
Tim Dierkes of Roto Authority wrote about Snell in a recent e-mail to those customers who bought his pre-season fantasy baseball guide:

Snell has alternated excellent months with mediocre ones this year. One consistent trend, though, has been his newfound control. He’s trimmed his walk rate by a full walk, down to 2.59 per nine. And the figure has been falling month by month. This should keep his WHIP under 1.30 moving forward even when the hits even out.
His .287 BABIP is reasonable on most teams, but the Bucs have a team mark of .317. So you might expect his hit rate to rise from the current 8.3.
Another breakout trend for Snell has been a career-best 46.1% groundball rate. This has helped him reduce home runs to less than one per nine innings.
Moving forward I expect Snell to post an ERA in the 3.50-3.70 range with a WHIP around 1.25-1.28. Even with the reduced K rate I think he can get 170 Ks.

In a season full of disappointments, appreciate one of our few bright spots. And be thankful, too, that a series with Houston is on the horizon.

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Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

Game #93 vs. Rockies

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