Rip Van Winkle, over and out

That’s right; I’ll admit it.  I fell asleep during the Pirates’ first three games against the Diamondbacks this past weekend.  And despite the rather abrasive nature of my opening sentence, I’m actually somewhat ashamed of my narcolepsy.  Thursday night, OK — it was a work night, and the game didn’t start until 9:40, approximately an hour before I usually hit the hay.  But Friday and Saturday nights?  That’s somewhat embarrassing.  Not that I was ever a big partier.  But there’s something about collapsing into an almost-comatose sleep at 9:45 on a Saturday night that really makes a person start to feel old.

But then there was yesterday’s game, which started at a very managable 4:10 in the afternoon, and I was optimistic that sleep would not overtake me this time.  Because the fact is, I feel disloyal when I don’t watch a Bucco game and the sole reason is that I fell asleep.  (Bible Study, work, travel, these are all good excuses.  Sleep?  Who needs that when there’s a ballgame to analyze?)  I don’t like having to wait for the score and notable stats to scroll by on ESPN’s Bottom Line to find out what transpired.  It makes for significantly less compelling blog posts, I can tell you that right now.

But to get back to yesterday — oh, that I had fallen asleep!  The Pirates’ 9-0 drubbing at the hands of the Diamondbacks has to rank, in my estimation, as one of their worst games of the year.  In so many ways, it was reminiscent of the myriad, awful blowouts the Buccos suffered last year, in which the starting pitching would dig an insurmountable hole early, and the offense would prove themselves bereft of anything resembling potency.  And yet yesterday’s radio broadcast was somewhat different in that it did not even feature any of the delightful announcer non-sequitors that so often made last year’s games bearable.  The Pirates were so bad that Greg Brown couldn’t even muster up an, “awful…wow!,” which remains my favorite of his ever-candid assessments of the Bucs.

I’m not saying the Pirates didn’t try yesterday.  But there sure were a lot of outs that happened quickly, and innings that were over virtually as soon as they began.  Let’s face it — having five hits over the course of the game (and all of them singles) is not often going to lead to a victory, particularly when your starting pitcher struggles, from the outset, to keep the game within reach.

And let’s talk about Virgil Vasquez for a moment, if we may.  I had thought that the main idea of having depth in one’s system was to be able to quickly and effectively take those who are not performing out of the Majors, because there are several ready and willing replacements behind them.  And yet here we are, with several good starters down at Triple A, and Vasquez is allowed to continually go out there and struggle.  Apparently there are issues with Tom Gorzelanny’s service time, which, to me, seems simultaneously stupid and as good a reason as any to keep him with Indy.  I don’t think Ian Snell is the answer, either, since he is still having his mental breakdown when it comes to the thought of returning to Pittsburgh.  (And a word about that — the Yankees are apparently scouting him.  The implications of that are scary.  I’m sorry, but if Ian Snell’s psyche couldn’t handle things in our fair, small-market city, how in the world will he make it under the brightest, most scrutinizing lights in the game?  Yikes.)  And Jeff Karstens (Jeffy K, as I like to call him), with the exception of yesterday, has been a bright spot in long relief.  But I really think something needs to be done to work around these complications, because what we have in the fifth starter’s spot right now is a guaranteed loss each time out.

And oh, that the pitching was the only thing wrong with yesterday’s game.  How about the offense, which seemed to have evaporated into the three-digit temperatures of the Arizona desert?  The Pirates have now been shut out eleven times this season (approximately once every nine games!), and on three separate occasions they have been shut out in consecutive games.  I firmly believe that the offense is in there (one needs only look at Garrett Jones’ slugging percentage, or Freddy Sanchez’s doubles and hits totals to determine that), but for now, it seems to be on a bit of a hiatus.  Which is all fine and good, but you’re not going to win games by scoring zero runs.  One run?  OK, occasionally.  Two?  Maybe a little more often.  But zero?  That, my friends, is another guaranteed loss.

So that’s pretty much all there is to say about the series in Arizona.  I hate to be this negative, but frustrations are abounding. 

And besides, no one is cheerful when they’ve just woken up.


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