Game day blog: Pirates top Nationals, 7-5

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3:34 p.m.

Marte nails it down, his first NL save...Bucs win, Bucs win.

Pirates 7, Nats 5.

Raise the Jolly Roger.

Well folks, it has been great. Thanks for all the feedback and all the banter. I'll see you at the next home, non-televised midweek game. Until then, Go Bucs...and here's hoping life works out .500 for you. That seems like a big goal around here.

3:26 p.m.

Bucs make it 7-5 when Jason Michaels drives in a run with a double to left. That should be the breathing room they need.

And it looks like Capps is on his way to getting a rest, as here trots in Damaso Marte, to try to shut this one down from the left side.

He'll face Flores, Belliard and Pena -- and, for Capps' right arm sake, hopefully that is all.

Folks, we are three outs from being on the cusp of what this city (and more to the point, this franchise) has adopted as some sort of Holy Grail ---- the .500 mark. With these three outs, then a win tomorrow at Baltimore, the Pirates would hit 34-34.

I don't know what I'd do to celebrate.

3:20 p.m.

As per the Matt Capps watch ---- John Grabow is warming in the Pirates' bullpen.

3:15 p.m.

By the way...and I am not joking.

After this game, I am headed to Shippensburg, Pa. where I have to cover the PIAA softball championships tomorrow.

Local teams play in two of the four games: Vincentian in Class A; Latrobe in Class AAAA.

And, no, there will be no live blogs from those games.

3:12 p.m.

The Nats just cut their deficit to 6-5 when Cristian Guzman had an RBI single.

From there, with men on first and second, Osoria settled down and struck out Elijah Dukes (and his baggage) swinging. Russell then handed the ball to Tyler Yates who got Lastings Milledge to strike out swinging to end the threat.

Of note -- the attendance was 16,306....not bad at all for a mid-week afternoon tilt.

Someone in Harrisburg owes someone else a beer after work.

2:55 p.m.

Tim Benz is sitting up here near me in the press box. He is the host of the morning drive-time show on WXDX.

You can count me among the big Benz fans ... always have been, always will be. I think Tim is a tremendous radio guy and, on a personal level, I know him a little bit and also think he's a very solid human being.

All that said, something hit me; if he were to marry former Pitt women's basketball star Marcedes Walker, who now plays in the WNBA, she would be ... Marcedes Benz.

I'm just sayin'.

Oh, back to the game.

Bucs go quietly in the seventh

We are heading to the eighth, Franquelis Osoria is heading out for his second inning of work and the Pirates are clinging to this 6-4 lead.

Washington has Lopez, Nieves and then the pitcher's spot up.

2:46 p.m.

Onto the bottom of the seventh (a man on the scoreboard is trying incite me to stand up and stretch my tired pegleg, even though 1). I don't have a pegleg and 2). It is not tired.)

Anyhow, the Bucs are clinging on here.

Due up are Bay, Doumit and Nady as the home club is ahead 6-4.

2:33 p.m.

Well, Sean Burnett hadn't pitched since June 1 ... and it looks like for good reason. He came into the game with two outs in the top of the sixth and fumbled through a few batters, allowing the Nats to narrow the Bucs' advantage to 6-4.

More assorted poll answers:

"As for the poll's, Third Party jerseys are gouche, and going sans shirt is only OK if the seat is less than $10." - Jack, Pittsburgh

"Sitting in Baltimore watching the game on MASN and following your blog on the laptop. As for wearing Team C's jersey, I was at the O's-Yanks game on Memorial Day and a guy in front of us was wearing a Cubs jersey. All I could think was, "Loser."

That said, I'll be at Camden Yards tomorrow and Sunday and the Bucs gear will making the trip as well.

- Jake

P.S. Couldn't give up the bartending double on Saturday so I'll be behind the bar all day if you or any Bucco fans want to come have a drink or some crabs before the game at O'Brycki's. Famous Crab House."

"At least the guy with his shirt off has the shirt draped over the back of the chair so there is some barrier there AND I think it is better to wear no shirt than to wear a jersey of a team that is not even playing!" - Scott, State College

"It's ok to go shirtless if you put you shirt on the back of the seat so your bare back doesn't come in direct contact with the plastic seat." - Bryan

"You REALLY need a better hobby. You are more concerned with that the men are or are not wearing... Dude... Find the chicks... Sheesh."

- John

"Although it may be a bit geekish to wear the jersey of a sports team that is not playing to a sporting event, I have to admit I have done it before. I've found that i get high-fives (another geek move) when I wear a Steelers' jersey and sympathy when I wear a Pirates' jersey. But don't fret, that will all go away when the Pirates reach that magical milestone of .500 tomorrow." - Jason

2:26 p.m.

Well, Sean Burnett hadn't pitched since June 1 ... and it looks like for good reason. He came into the game with two outs in the top of the sixth and fumbled through a few batters, allowing the Nats to narrow the Bucs' advantage to 6-4.

2:16 p.m.

In the words of Mike Price, the Pirates are "ROLLING BABY!" ()

The Bucs are up, 6-1 after 5 complete.

Gorzo just threw his 100th pitch so I would bet we would see the bullpen called upon for duty soon.

Anyhow, onto more important things...the Mattingly jersey debate.

Here is some feedback from you folks:

"I once went to a Cubs game from Great Lakes Naval Station when attending a school there. I wore a Steeler shirt and boy did I get some sarcastic remarks. But all my clothes are black and gold so what can ya do?" -anonymous

"Well, a hat would be OK -- but a jersey is a little over the top for anyone over 12." -Jim

"Does he have a large "L" on his forehead too? I say give him the Bronx cheer!!!" -Jim

"I could not agree more. Whats even worse is its the jersey of a player who hasn't be in the majors for over a decade. You need to drop him a note and let him know he should stop living in the past."

-Ron

"That is just wrong. If he were in Philly he would not be wearing that Jersey anymore and would have a few less teeth." -Justin

"The worst thing about the guy in the Yankees jersey is the fact that he probably lives in Bethel Park. Pittsburgh doesn't have an NBA team, so I'm sure he has a jersey that says "Jordan" on it as well." -Andrew

"I don't think it's dorky to wear a team not playing to a game if you are a fan of that team and just come to the game to watch, but anyone wearing a Don Mattingly jersey is automatically a dork." - Gene

"Wearing a random jersey to a ballgame, let alone a very outdated one, just means I am a Yankee fan, I am a fancy man - Look at me. I still think all jerseys should be worn at home or at the bar. You are not going to pinch-hit no matter how many innings the game might go." -Tim

2:00 p.m.

Quick poll question II

shirtguy

Pictured is a fella taking in the game today with his shirt off. Truth is, this is no crime.

But my take on it is this:

Such behavior is acceptable ONLY in a bleacher seat, where there is no chairback so as to avoid two things:

1. The wetness of your back forcing a sort of glue-like adherence between your back and the seat.

2. Residue from your back left on the seat or, the other way around, residue from the seat left on your back.

So, like I said, if you are in a bleacher seat, you can go sans shirt with no problem.

But, in a seat with a chairback, you gotta leave the top on.

Thoughts?

cdunlap@post-gazette.com

1:48 p.m.

Quick poll question, and I'll post some of the answers.

There is some guy sitting below the press box in a Don Mattingly Yankees jersey.

I don't know, but to me, it is kind of a dork move to wear the jersey of a team that is not playing to a game.

That is to say, if Team A is battlin' Team B at a ballpark, and you wear Team C's jersey to said ballpark....you are a choke.

Your thoughts on this pressing issue? Email me: cdunlap@post-gazette.com

By the way, end of 4; BUCS 4, WASH 1.

1:42 p.m.

Nats leave two stranded in the top half of the fourth (they've left 5 on base thusfar). Bucs are up, 4-1 with Mientkiewcziewczewkiewczikewcwicz, Gomez and Jack Wilson coming to bat in the home half of the fourth.

By the way, here's the random video of the day:

1:32 p.m.

Just got this email:

"I have a bet (involving beer) with a co-worker on today's attendance. I say above 11,000. He says below 11,000. Please tell me I'll be drinking a cold one tonight, on him." -- Jason Ernest, Harrisburg, PA

Well, Jason ... just an eyeball guess here says you will be enjoying an ice cold brew. My guess is 17K. There are a lot of groups here. Have your pal take you to the Pep Grill to pay up.

1:25 p.m.

Elijah Dukes, he of the spotted past, and is lucky to be on a roster, had an RBI triple in the top of the third to slice the Pirates' lead to 4-1.

Oh yeah, Croatia just scored again....they are up 2-0 against Germany now in the 68th minute. This is HUGE news to everyone in the world who does not live in America.

1:19 p.m.

Gorzo just drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second with none out, Bucs go up 3-0.

McLouth followed with a sac fly to make it 4-0 Bucs with one out.

At the end of two complete, BUCS 4, WSH 0.

In other news, American Patrick Sheehan (who?) is atop the leaderboard at the US Open at -4 after 11 holes...one shot ahead of a few guys not named Tiger or Phil.

And in real sports news, Croatia is up, 1-0, over Germany in the 58th minute of Group Stage play in Euro 2008...that would be a huge upset.

1:07 p.m.

More feedback about this guy:

"Given that Capps gave J.R. the ok to use him, it can't be a big deal. Capps knows his arm and Russell's no Dusty Baker. Besides, with Gorzy throwing, one can only expect that Bullington or Burnett will be getting a call today, not Capps." -- Keith Burkey

"Russell probably left Maholm in one hitter too long and cost the Pirates the opener of this series, so something tells me that he'll adhere to the commonly accepted wisdom and keep Capps off the mound, rather than risk a loss. It brings up the question, though, of who he would use in that situation. Gorzelanny has given no indication lately that he can go real deep into a game, so the 'pen will likely be used earlier than usual. Personally, I'd bring Sean Burnett in for a save opportunity, crazy as that sounds. He's got a bulldog, battler mentality, and it'd be interesting to see how he responds." -- Chris, North Hills

12:58 p.m.

My gosh, is Doumit hot, actually, he is beyond hot at this point.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, he just planted a line-shot into the right field seats for a two-run home run to put the Bucs up, 2-0.

Doumit now has four home runs in three games, has gone 8 for 9 with two doubles, 3 HRS and 6 RBIs.

Someone need to call these guys...they are the only ones who have any chance of cooling Doumit:

END OF 1:

WSH 0

PIT 2

12:49 p.m.

If the top of the first is an accurate indicator, we are in for a 7 hour game.

The bad new first: Gorzo labored through a 34 pitch inning.

The good news is that he didn't give up a run and left two stranded.

End of one-half inning.....WASH 0, Bucs coming to bat, Pirates bullpen knowing they are going to be used.

12:38 p.m.

A few tidbits:

• The Bucs are wearing pinstripes.

They are 6-0 in pinstripes this season.

• First pitch went off as slated, right at 12:35....85 degrees, or so says Pirates PR-machine Mr. James Trdinich.

• More feedback on the Matt Capps issue:

As far as Capps being used 4 days in a row...

"He's a monster and he only pitches a few at-bats a day. This is a big game for the PWC, so if the correct batting order presents itself, he should be called out. He can rest when the Pirates trade him for Laroche's little brother." -Mike

"I do think it would be a good idea to give Capps and maybe a few other relief pitchers a day off. It would be nice if Gorzo would pitch about 7 good innings and the Pirates offense would score a few runs." -Bryan in Leechburg

"I think Russell should not use Capps today, we're going to need his arm plenty this season so try to keep it fresh as much as possible. I would use some sort of combination of Marte/Grabow in Capps place in the 9th, and throw Burnett (show some faith in the kid) in the 7th or 8th." -Aaron

12:27 p.m.

Two things:

1. The Seneca Valley 6th grade middle school band performed the national anthem.....solid job.

2. Terry Long, no, not the Terry Long who tragically died, but a Mr. Terry Long from St. Marys, Pa. weighs in on the Matt Capps use/overuse issue in an email, saying:

"Are you kidding me?? He pitches ONE inning a night! He is a major league baseball player! He gets paid to do this for a living! Capps should be able to pitch every single night, b/c if he does, that means the Buccos are winning!!"

12:18 p.m.

Old faces...always a pleasure to see.

Fomer P-G staffer (and Mt. Lebanon native) Chico Harlan is in the house. He is now the Nationals' guy for the Washington Post.

chico

12:10 p.m.

A big talking point amongst some media members in the press box prior to today's game has been the use/overuse of Bucs closer Matt Capps.

He has been called to the hill by Russell during the past four consecutive games, picking up his 15th save on Monday against Arizona, blowing a save against Washington on Tuesday before bouncing back last night to earn his 16th save of the season against these Nationals.

All that said, the prevalent school of thought would be that, no matter what the situation, there is no way in the world Russell would call upon Capps today.

What are your thoughts on this?

Shoot me an email at cdunlap@post-gazette.com and I'll post some of the better answers.

NOON

I'm normally not in the business of recycling old jokes, but looking down on the field from the press box before the game reminded me of something.

It seems nothing -- and I mean nothing -- in plain view at the ballpark is free from having an advertisement affixed to it. It is sensory ultra-overload; you are simply bombarded with it.

Even the tarp that covers the mound has an advertisement on it, it is a large gold 'M' with the words "I'm lovin' it" written underneath.

Obviously it is an ad for McDonalds.

Former Pirates pitcher Jimmy Anderson would have loved that (insert rimshot here).

- Anyhow, now to the festivities at hand, today's game with the Washington Nationals.

Pirates manager John Russell has chosen to have these nine gentlemen represent the Pittsburgh Baseball Club this afternoon:

PIT (32-34)

CF McLouth .299

2B Sanchez .243

LF Bay .285

C Doumit .358

RF Nady .318

1B Mientkiewicz .228

3B Gomez .301

SS Wilson .297

LHP Tom Gorzelanny (4-5, 6.83 ERA)

The affable Manny Acta will counter with these nine Washingtonians (at least in the summer months):

WASH (26-41)

SS Guzman .309

RF Dukes .207

CF Milledge .252

1B Boone .252

3B Belliard .230

LF Pena .200

2B Lopez .239

C Nieves .277

RHP Jason Bergmann (1-3, 5.23 ERA)

- I found this random clip of Pirates announcer Lanny Frattare.

I don't know what to think of it, I am puzzled.

But, hey, look at the positives -- I guess he found enough time to stop discussing the daily AFLAC trivia, or talking about his days as a DJ to get his nails done:

- Hey, be sure to email me today if you have a question, a concern or if you just want to tell me how much of an idiot I am. I can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette.com



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