So last night I was all ready to scribble up a quick post on how important that 6-3 win was; with Zach Duke's great start, squaring up a ton of Dan Haren pitches, and solid defense... But that joy can only last a few hours, as the Buccos shit the bed today, losing 6-15, including a history-making 4th inning in which they allowed 13 runs.
I went to the Altoona/Harrisburg game today to see the Curve take on pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, so I didn't get to catch the game, and in fact, I haven't even seen the highlights (hopefully, it will stay that way). So I don't want to criticize too much with out any solid first-hand evidence, but I do have a few thoughts from the past few days.
I don't know if Garrett Jones even squared up a couple balls today, but he saw 9 pitches in 5 plate appearances; that's awful. I know it's only one game, but that's unacceptable in any situation.
Daniel McCutchen was not good by any stretch of the imagination; his one strength never showed up (he walked three in 3.1 IP and only threw a little over half his pitches for strikes) and his one weakness reared it's head (he let up 3 HR and his GB/FB was 2/6). He was terrible, I'm not questioning that, but I am starting to second guess letting McCutchen start this particular game. Why let the staff's worst fly ball pitcher go in a ballpark that balls jet out of to a team full of fly-ball hitters? That doesn't excuse McCutchen's performance, but the more I thought about it, the less sense that made. I would have had McCutchen pitch that Thursday day game against the Dodgers and then sent him down.
Jack Taschner showed me nothing last night to believe he can be counted on at all, and letting up a home run to Edwin Jackson (a guy who has pitched strictly in the AL before this year, and therefore only had 33 career plate appearances before today) did nothing to change that opinion.
Hayden Penn does not belong on a Major League roster right now; he threw 19 pitches (4 for strikes), got one out, allowed a hit, walked 3, and got charged for 4 runs. Think about this for a second; since Penn only threw 4 strikes, but two of them were put in play, he got only two called strikes in 19 pitches. That's ridiculous. I don't have a problem with the move of picking him up and giving him a chance, but he didn't take advantage of it, so now it's time to designate him for assignment (to AAA), hope he clears waivers, and try someone else as the long reliever. There's still a lot to like about Penn (good stuff, pedigree, and still somewhat young), but he doesn't belong in the Majors right now.
Okay, that's enough of my negativity. A few things I liked; a little more power (Aki, Cutch, B. Crosby, and Jeff Clement), Lastings Milledge in the 3-spot (he's been spraying line drives, which is more suitable for the 3 than the 5), Zach Duke turning in the first really good start from a Pirate this season (ground-ball machine, if he strikes out a few more guys I would elevate it to a great start), Octavio Dotel throwing a stress-free ninth inning (I hope the Nationals have been enjoying Matt Capps' iffy closings), and Ryan Doumit going 0-4 with 4 Ks on Saturday (Oh, wait...).
But all is not lost, the Bucs are still 3-3 and head to San Fransisco to take on a team that is over-achieving in the early going (and the Pirates dodge a bullet by not having to face Lincecum). The series starts with Ohlie taking on Barry Zito tomorrow night at 10 pm (FSN).
I'll have a post with a recap from my trip to Altoona (along with a few pics) and a few words on the first week of Pirate minor league ball.