Pirates' fundamentals 'embarrassing' in defeat
Pirates pitcher Steven Jackson sits in the corner of the dugout after giving up five runs, four of them earned, to the Diamondbacks in the 12th inning of last night's 11-6 loss at PNC Park.
Pirates pitcher Kevin Hart pitches in the third inning of his first game as a Pirate.
Pirates pinch hitter Steve Pearce runs home after Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero threw the ball over the head of third baseman Mark Reynolds in the sixth inning.
Pirates pinch hitter Steve Pearce, left, is greeted at home plate by teammate Ronny Cedeno after driving Cedeno in during the sixth inning. Pearce''s hit drove in Cedeno and Pearce scored on an error.
Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen scores from first base on a double by Lastings Milledge as Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero waits for the throw in the third inning.
Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit looks as home plate umpire Brian Knight calls Diamondbacks outfielder Garardo Parra out after he tried to score from first base on a double by third baseman Mark Reynolds in the third inning inning.
Diamondbacks outfielder Garardo Parra slides past Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit trying to score from first base on a double by third baseman Mark Reynolds in the third inning. No call was made on the play, but Parra was called out after Doumit later tagged him.
Diamondbacks pitcher Max Scherzer pitches in the second inning.
Diamondbacks outfielder Alex Romero hits a two-run RBI double in the 12th inning.
Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit reaches for the throw as Diamondbacks outfielder Garardo Parra scores one of the Diamondbacks five runs in the 12th inning.
Share with others:
Here is, perhaps, the most frightening part for these Pirates: The season does not end until the fourth of October.
And, if they do not improve quickly -- and dramatically -- on their abysmal showing in the 11-6, 12-inning loss to Arizona last night before 17,311 audibly groaning fans at PNC Park, that will feel more like two years.
"Embarrassing," one everyday player called it, among a few other choice words.
Alex Romero's two-run double off Steven Jackson in the 12th broke a 6-6 tie, and the Diamondbacks went on to put up plenty of insurance.
But that ending is only the beginning of a long list of what went wrong for the Pirates:
• They lost Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche on the basepaths, each for the final out of an inning.
• Andrew McCutchen ran a stop sign at third base, even though he went on to be safe.
• Ronny Cedeno broke for second with a 2-2 count, two outs and the pitcher batting, a clear mental lapse in that, if he is thrown out, the pitcher leads off the next inning. He was lucky Kevin Hart fouled off that pitch.
• Three times, they had men at second with nobody out and could not advance them.
• And, the one that visibly bugged manager John Russell the most: Three players -- Hart, LaRoche and Lastings Milledge -- failed to put down sacrifice bunts.
• Game: Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
• TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: LHP Paul Maholm (6-6, 4.75) vs. RHP Chris Carpenter (10-3, 2.10).
• Season series: St. Louis, 5-4.
• Key matchup: Carpenter, who one-hit the Pirates April 9, is back at peak form after an injury, having held five of his past seven opponents to one or no runs.
• Of note: Since stacking their lineup by adding Matt Holliday to the outfield, the Cardinals are 7-5, and he has batted .447 with three home runs while batting behind Albert Pujols.
"We're young, but there's some situational baseball that we're going to have to play better," Russell said. "We've already pushed, and we're going to keep doing it. These are things that you have to get done out there."
Especially with a roster that, judging by its 2-5 record since the bevy of trades last week and the current five-game losing streak, can ill afford fundamental lapses of any kind.
"All it takes is one little mistake for us to lose a ballgame," LaRoche said. "When you have a bunch of young players like this and not a huge payroll or anything, you're going to have to do all the little things right, get the guys over ... we screwed up three bunts today. We have to do that."
In Young's case, he was thrown out in the first trying to stretch a single into a double.
LaRoche was caught in the fourth, hung up between third base and home after mistakenly thinking third base coach Rich Donnelly told him, "Squeeze," rather than "Swing." LaRoche broke, Hart struck out, and the inning was over.
Defensively, it is difficult to demean the Pirates overall: Their .989 fielding percentage ranks second in Major League Baseball to the Toronto Blue Jays. But most of the players who contributed to that figure are playing elsewhere.
Offensively, the Pirates were no better last night, going 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and stranding 11 in all.
"It is frustrating," right fielder Brandon Moss said. "I don't know what to say. We've got to get those guys in. I'm not going to point blame at anybody except myself."
Moss went 0 for 5, as did Garrett Jones in the No. 3 spot behind an effective top two, McCutchen and Milledge, a combined 4 for 9 with three walks.
Jackson had left bases loaded in the 11th to preserve a 6-6 tie but, after one out in the 12th, Augie Ojeda singled, and Chris Snyder doubled on a bouncer just inside the left-field line. Stephen Drew was intentionally walked, and Romero lasered a one-strike changeup over McCutchen's glove for an 8-6 lead.
Then, the insurance: Dan Haren, a pitcher sent to pinch-hit, hit a sacrifice fly. And, in a sequence befitting the evening, Miguel Montero rapped a single to right that would produce two more runs when Moss' errant throw caromed off catcher Ryan Doumit and into foul territory.
"I thought Steven threw OK, but it became a pretty tough situation there at the end," Russell said.
After the game, Jackson was returned to Class AAA Indianapolis. Jose Ascanio, part of the John Grabow/Tom Gorzelanny trade, will be promoted today and take Jackson's spot in the bullpen.
Hart, also part of that trade, had a so-so debut, charged with three runs and nine hits over six innings. Showing a 94-mph fastball and occasionally sharp splitter, he struck out five, but he also needed 101 pitches to get that far and fell behind 12 of his 27 batters.
"I liked what I saw," Russell said. "He made some good pitches."
As if things had not been bad enough on the field: What Jackson or Hart thought of the evening remains unknown, as they became the first two Pirates pitchers all season to avoid the media after a game: Jackson declined comment through a team official, and Hart, who has been with the franchise for a week, left before the clubhouse opened.
The sole bright spot, aside from the top two in the order: Matt Capps pitched a dominant ninth and 10th, striking out four, mostly by blazing 95-mph heat.
"It's the best I've felt all season," he said.
These new-look, old-result Pirates do not get a break: First-place St. Louis is in town, led off by Chris Carpenter tonight.
First Published August 7, 2009 12:00 am