Gorzelanny shaky in return

Pirates absorb 11th loss in row at Miller Park

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MILWAUKEE -- Tom Gorzelanny's performance against Milwaukee last night had deja vu written all over it.

In his first major league start since his exile to Class AAA Indianapolis, the left-hander looked a lot like he did before he went to the minor leagues. Or, at least, his pitching line did.


Today
  • Game: Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 2:05 p.m., Miller Park.
  • TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
  • Pitching: LHP Paul Maholm (8-7, 3.64) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (14-8, 2.99).
  • Key matchup: All the Pirates vs. Carsten Charles Sabathia, who has been nearly invincible since the Brewers acquired him in early July. In nine starts for Milwaukee, he is 8-0 with a 1.60 ERA.
  • Of note: Bill Hall is 10 for 17 lifetime with two home runs and seven RBIs against Maholm.

In the Pirates' 6-3 loss to the Brewers, Gorzelanny pitched only 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits, three walks and six runs. He threw 94 pitches -- just 52 of them strikes as the Pirates lost their 11th consecutive game at Miller Park. In his final start before going to Indianapolis -- here July 4 -- he pitched only 42/3 innings and allowed 11 hits, four walks and eight runs (seven earned).

"Everything was going bad for me here," Gorzelanny recalled. "It all came together in my last start here."

Or all fell apart. It still might be asunder. Bottom line? Is Gorzelanny any closer to relocating the magic that produced a 14-10 record and a 3.88 earned run average last season?

"He was OK," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It wasn't a terrible start. It was encouraging. He attacked the zone. He was kind of efficient. He kept the ball down.

"He just had trouble putting [hitters] away. The two-strike hits and two-out runs got him."

"I can take this as, 'Here we go again, '" Gorzelanny said, "but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to continue to work hard and get better."

By all accounts, Gorzelanny did well statistically at Indianapolis. In seven starts, he was 3-1, had a 2.06 earned run average and walked only four in 35 innings.

"There were a few things that he needed to do," Pirates pitching coach Jeff Andrews said. "One was getting his fastball command back. That was probably the No. 1 issue. The velocity we're used to seeing would have been a bonus had that come all the way back. His velocity came back a little bit."

Scouts have commented this year that Gorzelanny has lost a bit on his fastball. Last night, he threw it consistently 90-91 mph, a drop of perhaps two or three miles per hour from three or four years ago.

"There also was the focus on the mound, the concentration, the not letting things get to him and not be so defensive in his approach to pitching and not worry about contact," Andrews said, continuing to cite Gorzelanny's Indianapolis to-do list. "And free his brain a little bit and realize there's more that he can do and just sharpen up his game."

"He did what we envisioned him going down and doing," Russell said.

Last night, though, it seemed a lot like the Fourth of July all over again.

Rickie Weeks, who at game time was 0 for 14 lifetime against Gorzelanny, began the first inning with a single on a 1-2 pitch. J.J. Hardy walked on four pitches.

Weeks scored on Prince Fielder's one-out single through the middle. Hardy scored on Corey Hart's sacrifice fly to left, on which Brandon Moss made a fine sliding catch. Just like that, the Brewers led, 2-0.

Gorzelanny breezed through the second and third and had a pitch total of 43 to that point, but he threw 51 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings. Ryan Braun homered in the fourth on a 1-2 hanging slider. Braun had a two-run double in the fifth on a 3-2 pitch and scored on Fielder's single, and that hit finished Gorzelanny's night.


Paul Meyer can be reached at 412-263-1144.


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