As bad the Pirates looked in their V-8 Juice uniforms,they played worse as Carlos Zambrano shut them on the mound (2 runs over 7 innings) and at the plate (4 hits and 2 RBI) as the Pirates were blasted by the Chicago Cubs 12-3.
Zach Duke fell to 2-3 after an effort that was not as awful as his numbers looked in not making it to the 5th inning.
Duke's fielders were far from a help as several botched plays led to extra outs and therefore extra Chicago runs.
Xavier Nady dropped a fly ball that was after a long run,but it still was very catchable, and that clearly would have gotten Alfonso Soriano doubled off base as he was almost home at the time of the miscue and that would have ended the inning.
Instead Chicago finished the inning with two runs after Doug Mientkiewicz(who is in the starting lineup way too much at 3rd base) would botch a ground ball to allow the second run to score and it would get worse.
The Pirates would hand the Bruins another run when Chris Gomez dropped Duke's made for a twin killing throw that would have ended the inning.
And that doesnt even mention Adam LaRoche's brain freeze on a ball that could have gotten a runner at second or first and instead got nothing.
Nate McLouth was involved with all the Pittsburgh runs as he smacked an RBI triple in the fifth and scored on a LaRoche sac fly after doubling in the eighth.
Sean Burnett and Marino Salas added little in help in their 5 innings of mop-up work as the Cubs scored seven runs off the two,with Burnett being especially putrid and walking four with some pitches that only could be seen to be believed.
All around-awful and here is hoping for improvement tonight in Game 2 of the set.
Chicago:Jason Marquis (2-3 4.96 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Phil Dumatrait (1-2 4.39 ERA) 7:05
Carlos Zambrano is clearly one of the top five starters in the senior circuit,but two things that he does that really impresses me is that he is fast and aggressive.
He works fast and keeps the game moving,keeping his rhythm going and that keeps the opponent off balance when Zambrano is going well.
I like the way Zambrano attacks the 7,8,9 hitters too as he does not get cute with lesser hitters and goes right after them with strikes.
This enables him to save pitches instead of piling up pitch counts by nibbling at corners with weaker bats.
Battlin Bob sends us this sad article on former Pirate Dock Ellis,who was recently placed on the liver transplant list.
Ellis pitched a no-hitter for the Pirates in 1970 (supposedly on LSD or LDS for our Trekkers out there) and was the starting pitcher in the 1971 All-Star game.
Dock has a special place for me as he was the first big leaguer to sign an autograph for me on my 10th birthday when he was winding his career down with the Texas Rangers.
Best wishes for Ellis and a complete recovery.
During last nights game,Lanny Frattare and Bob Walk discussed the Maple bat issue and in what should come as no shock disclosed that the reason that the bats have not been banned already was through the objections of the players association.
Those guys will fight any small improvement every step of the way.
Frattare told Walk that a committee was formed to look at the issue and Walk's reply was dead on.
"There has been a committee on oil prices for a year and you see how that's went"!
Frattare and Walk are clearly the best team that the Pirates have for their games as any team with Greg Brown in it is guaranteed to be awful!
I was going to go to the Lexington-Hagerstown finale' last night,but I only needed a few players and none were real prospects and decided to pass.
I was kinda tired and was watching Vanderbilt and South Carolina play in the SEC Tournament.
Because it was a chance to see two of the players that Pittsburgh is considering selecting in the draft in Vandy's Pedro Alvarez and South Carolina's Justin Smoak.
Alvarez homered in the 7-5 Commodore victory.
And finally thanks to my terrific wife,Cherie for my great anniversary present-25 Hagerstown Suns tickets!
Zambrano and Nady:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo