April 27: Pirates (7-12) @ Brewers (9-10)
I often get asked what it is like to cover a team that (since I’ve been in Pittsburgh) loses more games than it wins. Is it harder? Does it wear you down? Do you wish you could cover a team that wins more?
My answers are always the same. My job is to report on the Pirates, good and bad, during winning streaks and losing ones. The wins and losses don’t affect my ability to write. I don’t root for the Pirates to win — if I did, I’d be working a different job and buying tickets to come to the ballpark as a fan. If I root for anything, it’s good stories, good people and (especially on getaway days) quick games. There are intriguing stories to be found in losses, too, and actually, sometimes that’s where the best stories are.
It’s no secret that this past week has been excrutiatingly trying for the 25 players and members of the Pirates coaching staff. This group has endured the worst lost in franchise history, continued starting pitching woes and having a pitcher knocked out by a line drive.
From a news perspective, there has been plenty to write about. But going into a clubhouse the way it was after a 17-3 loss last night is never easy. Reporters don’t want to ask the pointed questions — but we have to. Players don’t want to answer them — but they try to. You just do your job, get out and let the players be on their own, where emotions can die down.
I won’t lie. It is more pleasant to go to a clubhouse after a win when players want to talk and everyone is in a good mood. But win or lose, everyone has a job to do. So in that spirit, we truck along with the blog…
- With the way Monday’s game developed, Ryan Doumit’s failure to block the plate while taking a relay throw home seemed fairly inconsequential in the outcome. However, it was noteworthy, and since it didn’t make it into the gamestory last night (I opted to instead look big picture), it’s worth mentioning here. The play happened in the second when Doumit took a throw from the outfield that beat baserunner Gregg Zaun to the plate. Only, Doumit set up on the outside of the plate and never aggressively went for the tag. Zaun was ruled safe. Doumit argued, as did manager John Russell, though replays show the call was correct. On Tuesday, Russell noted that the call was the right one: “He was safe. Ryan didn’t get in the front of the plate and just lost track of where he was. My argument was that he just slid into the catcher and it was to protect the catcher last night.”
- Jeff Karstens becomes the eighth different pitcher to start for the Pirates, and this is only game 20. You have to go back to 1953 for the last time the Pirates used eight different starters within the first 20 games of the season. Who were they? Murry Dickson, Johnny Lindell, Howie Pollet, Bob Friend, Paul LaPalme, Bob Hall, Bill MacDonald and Paul Pettit.
- On this day one year ago, Karstens pitched here at Miller Park against the Brewers. And you should remember what happened. The righty drilled Ryan Braun in the back after Braun took him deep earlier in the game. Both benches were warned, and Braun made it quite clear afterward that he took exception to the pitch. Milwaukee retaliated and plunked Karstens last July.
- Everyone is available in the Pirates’ bullpen tonight, though Russell would obviously love to limit the number of phone calls made.
- Though Karstens has only made one start in Triple-A this year, Russell said the right-hander is not on a particular pitch count. He was stretched out even through relief appearances. How long could he go? “Hopefully nine innings,” Russell said.
- The big news here in Milwaukee involves long-time broadcaster Bob Uecker, who announced today that he will be undergoing open heart surgery on Friday. He hopes to be back in the booth in 10-12 weeks. Wisconsinites Jason Jaramillo and Jack Taschner shared their memories of Uecker, and you’ll be able to find those on the pirates.com site later.
- Brian Bass and Brian Burres remain starting options for Thursday. Whether they’re needed in the next two days will determine the club’s final decision.
- Right-hander Vinnie Chulk (right shoulder) has been activated off the Triple-A DL.
- Speaking of Triple-A, heck of a night Indianapolis had on Monday. Jose Tabata hit a game-winning home run in the 15th inning against Louisville. With the team running out of pitchers, catcher Erik Kratz came in to pitch the final inning for Indianapolis. Pitcher Jeremy Powell was summoned to play in the outfield.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Lastings Milledge (LF)
- Garrett Jones (RF)
- Ryan Doumit (C)
- Jeff Clement (1B)
- Aki Iwamura (2B)
- Jeff Karstens (RHP)
- Ronny Cedeno (SS)
- Rickie Weeks (2B)
- Craig Counsell (SS)
- Ryan Braun (LF)
- Prince Fielder (1B)
- Casey McGehee (3B)
- Jim Edmonds (CF)
- Corey Hart (RF)
- GeorgeKottaras (C)
- Randy Wolf (LHP)
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