Thursday, April 8, 2010

4-8-10 vs. the LA Dodgers

Aki Iwamura's reaction to today's game.
Belliard taking a brief break from getting RBI's.
I've heard skies such as these described as "Pittsburgh grey". I happen to be a fan of rainy weather, but not when I'm trying to see a ball game. Notice the empty seats; last night had over thirty-thousand fans and this afternoon had slightly more than nine thousand.

Paul Maholm had an underwhelming start. Beginning with the second inning, it became clear that the Dodgers were going to have lots of luck making contact today in direct contrast to the last few games.
Billingsly was more effective, despite his apparent love of walking Andy Laroche. Billingsly got himself into trouble in several innings, but as indicated by the 11 runners left on base, he was able to prevent all but one run.
Jones fouls a ball into the stands. The fans react accordingly.
One of the bright points of the game was Delwyn Young, starting in right field. Delwyn ended last season with a protracted slump that caused him to lose his position as starting second baseman. However, today he showed some of the ability demonstrated when first acquired.
Delwyn drew two walks and got two hits, also managing to drive in one of two runs.
Crosby started at short stop today. He managed to get two hits, but this was outweighed by the two throwing errors that he also committed.

Andy Laroche misses a grounder.
Crosby perhaps hearing the repeated shouts of "Syd!" from the stands. Groan-worthy the first time you hear it, eventually progressing to rage-causing.
McCutchen went 0-4 today.

Jones covering first parts one...
...and two.
I was very happy to see Andy Laroche get an RBI late in the game. His job is on the line, given that Pedro Alvarez will by all accounts be coming up in June. Andy is capable of great athletic feats from time to time, but unfortunately he seems to suffer from the Laroche family curse of streakiness.
It just so happens that I have been cursed with hyperactive empathy. As such, when a guy like Andy goes through a slump, you won't hear me in the crowd talking trash on him and calling him worthless. Instead, I feel sorry for the guy and genuinely hope he succeeds. Baseball is unlike any other team sport in that there are frequently excruciatingly-long periods of time where you're watching a guy really struggle at bat or on the pitcher's mound.
I remember seeing Van Benschoten deliver an absolutely horrific pitching performance back in 2007 and having the sudden realization that I was watching a man in the midst of one of the worst experiences of his life. His major league aspirations were dying before his eyes, or at the very best becoming far more unlikely. I shudder at the memory

When Andy Laroche first started playing for the Pirates, he came on to the "Simply the Best" song from Karate Kid. How can you not like someone like that? Here's hoping he comes around.

Jones watches a foul ball fly in my direction. That's right-I made sure I took the picture before I ducked for cover.

Church displaying his golf skills.
...And almost getting hit by a pitch.

I'll end this post with a picture of Dodgers relief pitcher Weaver showing off his mean face. So, the Pirates lost their first home game, but nevertheless won the series. They say hitting is contagious; so is missing. The Pirates need a reliable clutch hitter who won't strand base runners; today's game was like so many others that were plagued with missed opportunities.

It is my opinion that the first sign of the Pirates' sea change in success will occur in the form of the batting order coming to life and staying to life. Maybe Pedro Alvarez will provide the needed spark, but that's all that is really needed: some kind of a catalyst. McCutchen, Doumit, Milledge, Jones, Laroche (!), and hopefully even Clement have it in them to get hits. There are still a few missing pieces to the puzzle, and the million dollar question is what those pieces are.

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