A tough day at the office for the boys in the blue, Lou summed it up well after the game
“We had a plethora of wasted opportunities.”
You don't say.
Before we play the blame game, let's look at a few positives:
- Ted Lilly threw yet another quality start and on a night when it seemed he didn't have his best stuff. At least early on he seemed to be missing his locations by quite a bit and getting hit hard, a cruddy Pirate offense certainly a contributing factor.
- The top two spots in the order continued to produce going 6 for 13 with a run, three RBI's
and two stolen bases. Unfortunately the middle of the order decided to take the night off.
- Some nice defensive plays to keep the game going by Soriano
, although both looked like they were umpire-aided calls. The umps owed us a few from earlier in the year so file it under baseball karma.
- Will Ohman
performed his LOOGY duties to perfection and has only allowed one hit to a lefty all season on top of four walks in 19 plate appearances
. It's the righties
that have been giving him more trouble than usual.
- Scott Eyre's three shutout innings lowered his ERA to 8.47.
- Lou Piniella
actually had a relief pitcher left for the 15th inning and a pinch-hitter for the 14th. Baby steps.
Oh but much went wrong, beginning with the eight inning:
- Lou brings Felix Pie into the game in the top of the 8th as a defensive upgrade over Cliff Floyd. One-run lead, a flyball
pitcher and the middle of the Pirates lineup due up, seems like a smart move. But Lou negates all that in the bottom of the inning. Lee and Ramirez reach to start the inning and the Pirates bring in a lefty to face Pie. Lou, going for the kill, brings in Murton
to counter and he pops out rather unceremoniously. If you're playing for defense in the top of the inning, why change your mind in the bottom half? With zero outs and runners on second and third, it would have been a good time to try the squeeze with Pie for that insurance run. If it fails, the team should still have a runner on third with less than two outs and you would have set yourself up with a better defensive outfield for the 9th even with a groundball
pitcher coming to the mound. And of course...
- Ryan Dempster
issues a one-out walk to Nate McClouth
although I didn't think it was a bad 3-2 pitch. Tailing two-seamer
that just missed the plate that most lefties will chase thinking it's going to be a strike. A single later and Jack Wilson hits a flyball
to right field. Jones should be out there if not for Lou's substituting in the eighth and while he may have just thrown it ten feet to either side of the plate or in front of him, he does have a stronger arm that would have had a better shot to nail McClouth
- More adventures on the basepaths
that I could do without. Soriano
gets thrown out at third when a ball doesn't get far away enough from the catcher. Theriot
gets doubled off second when a liner by Murton
that is in FRONT of him gets caught and Barrett gets thrown out at second base on a missed hit and run by Jacque
- Neil Cotts
is no longer invulnerable giving up his first run of the year.
I'll pass out equal shares of blame on the offensive ineptitude in the eight to add insurance runs when we had two runners in scoring position and zero outs and Ryan Dempster
for blowing his first save of the year against the bottom of the Pirates lineup. And of course Lou for some more questionable decision-making which of course would have been less questionable had Dempster
or Jones done their jobs.
While I wasn't nearly as up in arms about Sunday's game as some were, I did understand the concern. The concern was for games like today. Using up bench guys when you're losing to gain just the slightest advantage has a sort of Old West nobility about it. Better to go down with no bullets in the chamber than be left with a loaded gun and a bloody corpse. But when you're ahead or tied, I think the roster shuffling has to be more controlled. That's the time to save those bullets until you have an absolute clear shot and make sure that bloody corpse is in the opposing team's dugout.
Well last time we blew a win against the Pirates we reeled off five straight, I'll take that trade-off.