Game 45: Pirates 9 Orioles 8

OK, so, here’s the situation: the modem that gives me internet in my apartment is broken. I’ve been told that they need to send a serviceperson to my apartment to fix it rather than have me just drop off the broken modem and get a new one, because they’re concerned the wiring in my building has gone bad. This would all be fine, except that my lease is up on May 31st, the moving process starts this weekend, and I’m doing this whole “try to graduate” thing at school. That doesn’t leave much time at all for me to wait at my apartment for a serviceguy to come fix things. That means that, gulp, I might not have any internet access at my apartment until next weekend. I think that I’ll survive until then, probably. It does mean that there will be a functional change in how the blog operates between now and then, though, and so the daily recap time will go from “some time between the end of the game and 1 AM” to “some time before noonish the next day or maybe not at all.” It also means that I’ll probably be watching a lot of condensed games on the bus the morning after they’re played. Unless I work late, of course, or just show up at other people’s houses to use their internet and watch baseball. Don’t worry, we’ll get through this and come out on the other side probably still in better shape than the Pirates are in right now. 

Look: it’s fine to have an 89 mph fastball when you’re a lefty and you can throw it where you want to throw it and you can offset it with a great curveball and a decent changeup. It’s not fine to have an 88 mph fastball that you can’t get down in the zone and a curveball that you can’t control anymore. That’s where Wandy Rodriguez is right now. It’s obviously tough to watch because he’s a frustrated veteran and because his trade was a big turning point in recent Pirate history, not because the team played well after the trade or because he was a huge part of last year’s playoff run or anything other than because it signaled that the Pirates were really, truly buyers and that the trade sent a lifetime NL Central guy to the Pirates and he was happy about it. It was a psyche shift more than anything, but it certainly felt momentous at the time and that’s worth remembering.

The thing is, he can’t be allowed to pitch for the Pirates anymore if this is what he’s going to pitch like. I don’t know if it’s his knee or his elbow that’s causing him problems and I don’t know if it’s something that he might be able to work through to with some mechanical tweaks to look better down the road, but he is just not right right now and the Pirates don’t have the breathing space to let him get right on the mound. Last night should’ve been an easy win for the Pirates, and instead it was another tough game fraught with worry and pressure for the bullpen. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon had to hold another one run lead, and while you can blame that on Bryan Morris, the real blame lies with Rodriguez’s start. It’s not a good situation and I understand it’s hard to make these decisions with veterans, but I think that even one more start by Wandy is too many*.

The flip side of things was a game that felt like the polar opposite of last weekend’s Yankee Stadium Home Run Farce; the Pirates scored nine runs last night mostly by stringing singles together with some timely extra base hits. Before the game, David Manel wrote in his pregame post about the Pirates’ lack of offensive efficiency and how the Pirates simply aren’t scoring as many runs as you’d expect an offense with their OBP and wRC to score. Last night they were 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position and instead of people getting on base and staying there all night, it felt like every time I checked my phone for an update, a Pirate was getting a hit in a big situation.

This Jeckyll-and-Hyde act with the Orioles is exactly what I was talking about on Sunday; there’s a competent baseball team buried in these Pirate uniforms somewhere, but it feels like a painful process to extract that team and get them on the field on a regular basis.

*I’m actually willing to bet he gets one more start, but that that start will be the last one if it looks even anything like last night’s. Obviously my hunch is that this would be a mistake.
Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.