Pirates Notebook: Mientkiewicz vs. Johnson quiet
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PHOENIX -- It was supposed to be the Doug Mientkiewicz vs. Randy Johnson show yesterday, and that did somewhat materialize, just not how most thought.
Each had a strong game -- Mientkiewicz was 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Johnson held the Pirates to two runs in 7 1/3 innings -- but there never was anything close to a sequel to the events of June 9 at PNC Park, when those two got into a heated argument about Mientkiewicz stepping out of the box that cleared the benches and bullpens. Afterward, each also had unkind words for the other.
In this one, there were two minor instances, each in Mientkiewicz's initial at-bat.
He stepped out just before Johnson's first pitch, but that was not what it appeared: As Mientkiewicz confirmed, he did so just because Johnson had broken his delivery by breaking apart his hands.
"He started, then stopped," Mientkiewicz said. "Pitchers have our rhythm, and we have ours."
INDIANAPOLIS (55-63) won at Buffalo, 3-2. RHP Daniel McCutchen (5-8, 3.73), one of the prospects in the Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte trade, allowed two runs and four hits -- two home runs -- in seven innings. He struck out five, walked one and threw 66 of 92 pitches for strikes. LHP Juan Perez (1.98) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, struck out three and walked one. 1B Jason Delaney (.290) went 2 for 4 with a double and RBI. DH Andrew McCutchen (.280) went 1 for 4 with an RBI. 3B Neil Walker (.233) went 0 for 4.
ALTOONA (52-66) lost to Akron, 6-3. RHP Dan Reichert (1-3, 5.74) allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. RF Brad Corley (.277) went 2 for 4 with a double.
LYNCHBURG (48-68) beat Potomac, 10-4. RHP Matt McSwain (0-1, 5.87) allowed two runs and seven hits in five innings. LF Jared Keel (.226) went 3 for 3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs.
HICKORY (45-70) was off.
STATE COLLEGE (10-35) beat Williamsport, 4-2, to end a 10-game losing streak. LHP Rudy Owens (1-5, 5.89) allowed one run and two hits in four innings. 3B Jeremy Farrell (.299) went 2 for 4 with a triple and three RBIs.
BRADENTON (24-15) beat the Orioles, 11-3. RHP Zach Foster (1-1, 4.62) allowed one run and two hits in four innings. RF Edward Garcia (.211) and LF Craig Parry (.308) each went 4 for 5.
Then, when the count went 0-2, Johnson threw high and tight. And it looked to be no accident, as catcher Chris Snyder stood out of the crouch to await the ball in that location even as Johnson was in his delivery.
Nothing more came of it, but it was noticed.
"That pitch with the 0-2 count kind of got my attention," Mientkiewicz said with a laugh. "But, in all seriousness, that's the best stuff I've seen him have in four or five years. He had a lot of life on his fastball, and his slider was very deceptive. He was really good."
Over the weekend, Mientkiewicz said he was showing up only "to win the game," and both of his hits came off Johnson, including a sixth-inning shot through the box and the RBI double that chased Johnson in the eighth.
Johnson did not comment on Mientkiewicz.
Freddy Sanchez's home run off Johnson in the fourth inning was the decisive blow in the Pirates' 2-0 victory, as he impressively turned on a two-strike fastball on the outer corner and pulled it beyond left field. Even more impressive, it was the first run Johnson had allowed in three starts since the All-Star break.
Sanchez is batting .400 since the break, 22 for 55, with three doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in 15 games.
Best he has felt?
"Honestly, no," Sanchez said. "I still have some things to work on."
The Pirates' entry in the Venezuelan Summer League, which lost in the final the previous two years, won the best-of-three championship round Monday by beating the Seattle Mariners' entry, 6-2, thanks to three RBIs from catcher Ramon Cabrera. The team finished 46-22.
The league is comprised mostly of teenagers, whose next phase is rookie-level ball.
Rene Gayo, Latin American scouting director, singled out a few for praise: Right-hander Diego Moreno, 21, had a 0.81 ERA in seven starts and is being clocked at 97 mph; third baseman Elevys Gonzalez, 18, batted .311; and outfielder Rogelios Noris, 19, batted .272 with a team-high seven home runs.
"These are talented kids," Gayo said.
• The Pirates do not yet have a plan to offer starter Paul Maholm a long-term contract, team president Frank Coonelly clarified yesterday, though that has not been ruled out. They do have such a plan in place for center fielder Nate McLouth and catcher Ryan Doumit.
• McLouth and Doumit were out of the lineup. It was the first rest for McLouth since July 4.
• The Pirates are targeting one more Latin American signing during the period for 16-year-olds that closes at the end of this month, but that probably will not happen for another couple weeks. So far, four have been signed.
First Published August 7, 2008 12:00 am