Pirates Notebook: Breath of Fresh Air

I was getting ready to sit down and watch the game tonight when I got called in to do some work for the Census Bureau.  Luckily I’m just doing courier work, which means while other people are visiting houses where people haven’t filled out the census, I’m just driving from office to office picking up payroll forms.  That allowed me to listen to the game tonight on XM, with Bob Uecker doing the broadcasting, which is always a treat (and by the way, he’ll be having heart surgery this Friday, so best wishes to him and keep him in your prayers).

After the last week things were seeming pretty hopeless for the Pirates.  I fully expected the team to have a losing record in the first two months, and I didn’t really expect to get excited until Pedro Alvarez and company arrived around June.  Then the Pirates got off to a hot start and drew me in, much like everyone else.  That probably made the free fall in the last week much worse, as if it could get any worse.

Tonight as I was driving around, I was affected by the previous week.  It’s almost like I was shell shocked.  Jeff Karstens had a great outing, but the whole time I was thinking “wait for it…wait for it…”, and expecting a huge seven run inning by the Brewers.  When Milwaukee tied it at two, I wasn’t surprised.  When I left the office and started to drive home, it was heading to the bottom of the ninth and the Brewers had just taken the lead 3-2 (from what I’ve read, Prince Fielder may have still been celebrating his home run at this point).  I figured the game was over, which might have been more disappointing than a 17-3 loss.

When Ronny Cedeno homered in the top of the ninth, it played out as the following:

(Uecker says Cedeno hit a fly ball)

Me: Out number one.

(Uecker saying it’s going deep)

Me: Caught at the track.

(Uecker saying it’s going to the track, to the wall, gone)

Me: SUCK IT BREWERS!

(At this point I swerved back on to the road and regained control of the vehicle)

It didn’t stop there.  Andy LaRoche singled, and I didn’t even pay attention because I was thinking about how I might be able to get home to see extra innings.  Then Lastings Milledge hit a double that seemed to happen so fast, to the point where I was expecting the ball to land foul by the time he was rounding first.  Talking to my Dad on the way home, I found that it was a hard line drive off the wall, which explains the turn of events.  Garrett Jones walked, which had me thinking about how we really need someone better than Ryan Doumit protecting Jones.  Then Doumit hit his homer, which played out as the following:

Uecker: (Almost immediately) And that’s going to be a grand slam for Ryan Doumit.

Me: (With a more conservative fist pump this time) YEAH!

The previous week was still wearing on me though.  Even with a five run inning, and a four run lead, I found myself thinking “it would be nice if they could score a few more runs”.  Even though the bullpen has been excellent at protecting leads this season, I was worried about a four run advantage.  That’s probably because this past week has got everyone feeling like nothing can go right.

So tonight’s game was pretty much a breath of fresh air.  Hopefully it will be the same for the Pirates.  We can now think crazy thoughts like “The Pirates could win the series against Milwaukee with a win by Paul Maholm tomorrow” or “The lineup could be productive if Andy LaRoche and Ryan Doumit keep hitting like they have been recently”.

Pat at WHYGAVS had similar thoughts today, which came before the game, about how it wasn’t possible for the team to play this poorly, even though it felt like the poor play would never end.  I’m not saying the poor play is over, but at least this game showed us that it’s not a guarantee that we’re going to get trounced by Milwaukee.  That’s a victory on the field and off the field.

Stars of the Game
The top five players of the game, according to FanGraphs.  WPA stands for “Win Probability Added” and represents the impact the player had on his team’s chances of winning.  It’s based off of percentages, with each team starting the game with a 50% chance to win.  It is presented in decimal form, so .152 would equal 15.2%, meaning the player in question would have increased his team’s chances of winning by 15.2%.
1. Ryan Doumit: .306 WPA
2. Ronny Cedeno: .248 WPA
3. Jeff Clement: .244 WPA
4. Lastings Milledge: .185 WPA
5. Andy LaRoche: .126 WPA
Other Stuff
-The Pirates still have no starter announced for Thursday.  Dejan Kovacevic reports that Brian Bass and Brian Burres are being considered as options.  My guess would be Burres.  Kevin Hart pitches tomorrow in Indianapolis, and I doubt they’ll hold him back and bring him up.

-There are currently 13 pitchers on the roster, which makes you wonder when we will see someone sent down for a hitter.  My guess is that this could happen after tomorrow’s game, and might be either Bass or Burres, depending on who is in line to start on Thursday.  My guess for the player to come up: Steve Pearce.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 4/27/10

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