Pittsburgh Pirates Washed Out in Cincinnati

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IApril 11, 2009

Today was a sad evening, as I was looking forward to the Pirates playing the Reds at the Great American Launching Pad.

I was excited to see how Bucs starter Jeff Karstens would fare in his first start of the season. I was excited to see how our offense would do in a hitters' park. But no, on came the rain, and the grounds crew in Cincy called the game off 18 minutes after it was scheduled to begin.

So I thought this might be a good time to look back at the Corsair's recent series in St. Louis, where the Pirates salvaged a draw with the Redbirds.

First of all, I can not say enough about the Pirates' pitching staff. With the exception of Ian Snell's horrific outing on Tuesday, every Pirate starter notched a game score of at least 50. If you are not familiar with game scores, I am talking about the ones posted on ESPN.com. I think this is a very fair way to analyze starting performances.

As defined by the Worldwide Leader in sports to calculate it,

"Start with 50 points. Add one point for each out recorded, (three points per inning). Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth. Add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit allowed. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract one point for each walk."

For how bad the Pirates' rotation was for the most of last season, this is a very encouraging statistic to see across the names of Zach Duke and Ross Ohlendorf. In my opinion, both Ohlendorf and Paul Maholm pitched well enough to earn victories, it just was not in the "cards."

Second, all the kudos in the world to Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and Nyjer Morgan. These three impressed a lot in St. Louis. Sanchez began the series with three consecutive multi-hit games, concluded with a four hit performance in Wednesday's 7-4 win.

It might be too early to say, but he looked like a carbon copy of the guy who won the NL batting title in 2006.

Wilson just came up with big hit after big hit, none more so than his three-run double off Cardinals closer Jason Motte on Opening Day. For a guy who is much more known for his defensive skills, it was very nice to see his bat go to work.

Now I've been very critical of Morgan ever since he was awarded the starting job in left field over super-prospect Andrew McCutchen and veteran slugger Craig Monroe in spring training. I knew he was a decent fielder, but I didn't figure his bat would be worth any rupees.

He proved me very wrong. Through the first four games, he is batting a respectable .316 with four RBI. Let me remind you that he drove in seven runs in 58 games last season.

Third, on the other side, the more I see of Andy LaRoche, the more upset I become. He has not only brought absolutely nothing to the club, he has actually taken away. He currently has zero hits, two strikeouts, and three errors, all of which lead to Cardinals runs.

PLEASE, J.R., start Ramon Vazquez at third base! He will at least get an occasional base hit and he will certainly not be having multiple defensive lapses that could cost us the game.

Speaking of third basemen, Pedro Alvarez made his Lynchburg debut the other night. Now, there are debuts and debuts. This was the latter. Alvarez went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, a home run, and fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

And it was his first professional game in his career. I have absolutely no remorse in saying that if we started Pedro at third base over Andy, we would be 10 times better right now.


J.R. had a procedure done on his left elbow just hours before the game today. It was done to remove gouty deposits, which had been nagging him for about a week now. Never fear though, the Buccos' skipper is doing quite well.

"They had to go in and clean it out. It feels pretty good now. Anyone who's had gout in their feet knows how painful it can be." - John Russell.

The Pirates-Reds game has not been rescheduled just yet, but Maholm will take the hill against Johnny Cueto on Saturday at 1:10 PM ET. The Pirates don't want for him to get off schedule by missing the start.

Let's Go Bucs.