Collier: Pirates fall to Baltimore's 2012 offense
Share with others:
With tall ships from around the world sailing into its harbor and a battery of commemorative historical exercises already underway, this city is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Contributing most conspicuously are the Baltimore Orioles, who, while they didn't exist until 142 years after the last shot was fired, chose this week to re-enact the kind of explosive assault rarely seen since the Battle of Baltimore itself, which begat the whole anthem deal, the Francis Scott Key poem that turned into the Star-Spangled Banner, inspired by the defense of Fort McKenry.
Unfortunately for your viewing displeasure, the repulsed British forces were played by the contemporary Pirates, whose pitching staff took more direct hits than most of 1812 Baltimore on land and sea.
Worse, it wasn't just that the Orioles scored 27 runs in this three-game series, that they ripped 44 hits including 13 doubles and seven homers; it was that all of it seemed to be coming off the bat of Steve Pearce.
And/or Matt Wieters.
And the rockets' red glare!
There likely are two more frustrating characters in the ever-active Pirates torture chamber than Pearce and Wieters, it's just very difficult to come up with them when you're trying to get your head around the spectacle of Pearce driving a three-run homer into the seats in left to make it 10-0 Baltimore.
In the fourth inning.
In parts of five seasons in the Pirates' organization, the local experts could not coax anything more than a .232 average out of Pearce before finally letting him leave as a free agent in November. He had six hits and seven RBI in this series.
Wieters represents only one of the most conspicuous drafting mistakes in Pirates history. A strapping, switch-hitting catcher with All-Star potential, he was available to the Pirates on the fourth pick of the '07 draft, but the management team in place at the time (clearly not the best management team in baseball), chose instead left-handed reliever Daniel Moskos.
Wieters has been to the All-Star game.
Moskos, the eminently signable Moskos, has been to Altoona. And, OK, to Indianapolis and even to Pittsburgh. For 31 games.
Oh say could you scream?!
Wieters had two singles and two doubles with which he drove in five runs Thursday, joining Pearce for only the second occasion in Orioles history that two players drove in five runs in the same game. The other time, June 13, 1999, it was Cal Ripken Jr. (6) and Will Clark (5).
"It seemed like every situation that I came up in tonight guys were getting on base in front of me," said Wieters a few minutes after the Orioles finally tired of flogging Pirate pitchers and settled for a 12-6 victory. "When you're up in those kinds of situations, it's just a matter of concentrating and hoping the ball finds some grass."
You had to wonder if Wieters has any idea how aggravating his five RBIs were to the many Pirates fans who made the trip, and to a million or so at home. He is their All-Star catcher that wasn't.
"I've know that that draft is still a topic of conversation," Wieters said. "Hey, if we could all go back in hindsight and do some things over ... I've made decisions I'd like to have back; we all have. It is what it is, after all, but I'm real happy to be in Baltimore."
It had to startle a Pirates team that arrived here Monday with a share of first place, but exited in the manner of a person sprinting from a burning building. The Pirates fled from an assault on their pitching, which is this club's strength and apparently the only hope for extending interest through the summer.
Erik Bedard presented Pittsburgh's third consecutive awful start, a surprise in that the former Oriole had allowed 3 earned runs or fewer in 29 of his last 36 assignments back to the beginning of last year.
Bedard worked a smart 1-2-3 second, but sandwiched that with a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 first and a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 third. When he threw the last of his badly chosen 84 pitches, he was only a third of the way through the fourth. His earned run average swelled from 3.59 to 4.36. It wasn't anything like Clint Hurdle would be looking for, but particularly not on the day starter Charlie Morton had Tommy John surgery, ending his season and jeopardizing his next.
Hurdle can only steer this ship toward Cleveland, and hope that the shelling has stopped.
First Published June 15, 2012 12:00 am