Friday, August 19, 2005

Proud to be a Pennsylvanian

Yesterday evening, my friends and I had a softball practice for an hour or two, in preparation for trying to get into a fall league. Having not played softball in quite some time, and now remembering that it's actually somewhat difficult, I feel vaguely obligated to cease making fun of the Mariners quite so much. Baseball is hard. Let's do math.

What's sort of odd is that I remember back in the day, when playing softball, if someone did really well, they'd get compared to some current major league player. Last night, only when someone did poorly would we compare them to someone on the Mariners. For example, I was dubbed Bloomquist for the night because I misplayed a few balls at shortstop. Another team member couldn't hit worth a damn and got called Spiezio. At least when our outfielders dropped balls, we generally called them names from other teams, like Manny, or T-Long, or...

Well, anyway. Oh, I do believe there was a Mariners game last night too, but since it was Ryan Franklin vs. Joe Mays, who cares? From what I saw/heard of it, you could sum up the game with the following:

1) Adrian Beltre could totally beat up Ryan Franklin if he needed to. And he should.
2) Scott Spiezio got a hit, raising his batting average to a scorching .064.
3) The Mariners lost 7-3.
4) You should have been watching the Mets-Pirates game instead.

(As usual, good solid comedy gold at Lookout Landing for a "transcript" of the dugout altercation... I'm still looking for a picture, though.)

MLB's Gameday seems to have a lot of issues for me (both Macromedia-related and firewall-related) lately, so I've been using ESPN's Gamecast off their scoreboard instead. It's got its share of bugs too, but at least it doesn't totally freeze up for me all the time.

Right, so the Pirates-Mets game. In a rare but most likely increasing occurrence, Jason Bay is high-fiving Brad Eldred's home run in the game photo there, instead of the other way around. Ryan Doumit also had a heck of a game, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double. He's hitting .500/.543/.688 in 32 at-bats in August -- it's a small sample size, but it'd be great if he grew into the next big hitting Pirates catcher, wouldn't it? Oh, and the "Play Rob Mackowiak" campaign seems to be working, as he's heating up too. You know, if the Pirates could just get some good pitching...

...pitching! Right, so there was this guy Zach Duke pitching for the Pirates. You may have heard of him. Unlike another super young prospect pitcher named Zach, this one seems to be the real deal. He's now 6-0 in 9 starts for the Pirates with a 1.87 ERA. Last night, he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball (his line for the evening: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K). I really hope we face the NL Central again next year and draw the Pirates out here, because it'd be great if The King and The Duke got to battle it out; and I can wear all my Pirates stuff and not feel silly. Plus, I'd love to see Jason Bay take a swing at Safeco's fences. Maybe he could knock a "home" run all the way to British Columbia.

The Phillies now hold the NL Wild Card by half a game. I sort of thought they'd need to win both games in their doubleheader against Washington, since Roger Clemens was coming to the mound for Houston. But somehow the Rocket got rocked for 5 runs, his season single-game high, which, er, ballooned his ERA from 1.32 to 1.53, so Houston lost as well.

The Phillies' bullpen, which really is pretty solid now, won the first game, holding a 2-1 lead that Vicente Padilla got through 6 innings. However, in the second game, Lidle took a 4-3, Chase Utley 3-RBI lead through 5 innings before giving way to the bullpen, and for some reason Charlie Manuel decided to have Ugueth Urbina pitch, even though he had already pitched an inning in the first game four hours prior. The Nationals hit him all over the place, taking the lead at 5-4, which they held, having saved their closer, no pun intended.

The Nationals' pitching staff is getting pretty full of castaways, isn't it? Ryan Drese, Mike Stanton, now John Halama? Aaron Sele was just released by the Rangers' AAA team on the 16th, after he gave up 8 runs, count 'em, 8, to the Astros' AAA team in an outing on the 13th. Maybe the Nationals will pick him up too? Whee.

The Pirates go down to Philly for the weekend; if I hadn't had a friend's wedding to attend out here this weekend I had seriously thought of flying east too. (Instead, I'll be Philliesing it up with my family over Labor Day.) Tonight, Kip Wells takes on Rob Tejeda, coming off one of his best starts of the year; contrariwise on Saturday, we get Dave Williams coming off one of his best starts taking on Brett Myers coming off one of his worst starts; and on Sunday we get journeyman Mark Redman against Jon "We're not gonna take it anymore" Lieber.

Duke's next start should be at home in Pittsburgh against the hard-hitting (.373/.391/.567) but light-pitching (9-12, 4.36) Jason Marquis of the Cardinals on the 23rd. Should be fun.

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