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Steelers and Penguins

I won’t blame anyone if they decide to give up on the Pirates for the season. It would be almost refreshing to discuss the Steelers draft picks, and the possibility that Washington might be eliminated by the Habs in the Stanley Cup playoffs, making the road for the Pens that much easier. In spite of the absolute maulings that the Pirates have taken, baseball and the Bucs remain closest to my heart, although I won’t discuss much of their play here. You’ve seen and read all that you need to, and there is no doubt this team has been bad.

When they lost the 20-0 game, I felt like that was the nadir, and we wouldn’t get close to it again. It was one of those once-in-a-blue-moon things that happen. I may have been wrong. 17-3 may not be as bad in an exact comparison but its just as bad, for all practical purposes. Where do they go from here? Up. I believe in statistics, and I believe this team will bust out. They’ve had baserunners again and again, but not scored. I am usually the first to discount the effect such things have on the morale of professional baseball players, but I m willing to think a little differently here.

Being pounded again and again must affect something. What is Charlie Morton thinking when he goes to pitch? Surely, he can’t be telling himself he had one bad game, because he’s had many. What is Daniel McCutchen telling himself? Surely, he can’t even be expecting to get another shot at starting regularly. What is Ross Ohlendorf thinking? Man, I love the DL!

Still, there are some bright spots, and let’s think about them. Andy LaRoche has been on fire lately. Now that he’s been moved to the 2-hole instead of batting in front of the pitcher, opposing pitchers will pitch to him and make him earn a base, unlike before when they might have been more careful with the pitcher batting after. Garrett Jones has not had a great season with the bat so far, but he’s done OK at the plate. A lot of walks, more walks than Ks, and Jones needs to keep it up. Pitchers are being careful with him especially with Doumit batting behind him and in an absolute blue funk. Jones will not get much to hit, so he needs to make sure he doesn’t give up an out trying to do too much.

Milledge’s form has been worrying, and he’s just been returned to the 3-hole today so we’ll have to see what he does there. Clement has been puzzling, in my opinion. He’s looked like he’s had good ABs, and just no luck, for a long time. I would keep him in there for now. Aki has run into a bad patch.

Here’s what I’d like to see over the next few games. Cutch leadoff, LaRoche second, Jones in the 3-hole, and Clement cleanup. Cutch, LaRoche and Jones are good bets to get on base, which means Clement will get a chance to hit with runners on, and do some damage. I really liked his approach and would like to see him run into a few. Milledge at 5 followed by Doumit. Milledge has absolutely stung a few balls, but he seems to have trouble elevating them. I hope Don Long has had a chance to work with him over the last couple of days that he had off. Cedeno at 7, pitcher 8, and Aki 9 till Aki comes out of his lost mode.

I was surprised by Raynor being waived. We hardly gave him a shot. If we were short of pitchers, we could have sent down Bass or Burres. On the other hand, the thinking probably is that they would like to put Pearce or Walker on the bench (probably Pearce) once Karstens is done with the start.

The Brewers have a hex on us. I can’t think of any other reason for the last week.

If you are gonna watch the game today, good luck to you. Stranger things have happened, but I wouldn’t bet on Karstens taking a no-hitter into the 7th. Maybe he will not hit the Brewers this time, though.

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