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 Post subject: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:14 pm 
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I got 4 freebies in the luxury boxes from a vendor for today's game, so I blew off work and brought my sons and one of thier friends up for a game....they just finished finals in college and both start summer jobs tomorrow, so it was a nice treat for all of us.

Temperature was in the low 40's out in the real seats, about 70 or so in the box. Beer was cold, food was hot and it all was free.

Oh, yeah...they played baseball, too. The first game was pretty non-descript for the first four innings. Some pretty bad defense, but three excellent plays by Bixler, who looks much more comfortable in the field....I'm not so sure he shouldn't stay up when Jack comes back....I wouldn't want him to sit, but I think he could play for Sanchez enough to get some time. Speaking of Freddie, he CAN'T THROW right now....he has nothing on the ball. His warm-up throws are barely getting to first.He tried to flip to Bixler on a DP attempt when he was only a step from the bag and I truly think it was because he didn't want to make a throw. Michaels looked pretty shaky in the field, too....made one notable error on Chipper's single, but a couple other plays he struggled to make fairly routine plays. He also missed a foul ball that he probably should have caught, although he came a long way to get to it. I'm not sure what his defensive rep is, but he didn't look very fluid at all.

Both teams looked very uncomfortable because of the cold. It was hard to drink a second cold beer knowing how cold they were.

Duke did a lot of damage control....I thought the ump squeezed the strikezone on both pitchers. His fastball was consistently around 88-89 with pretty good movement and his curveball was quite good and he resorted to it more and more as the game went on. His 3rd pitch (slider? cutter?) was not very good and he used it sparingly after the first 3 innings. There were several balls hit pretty well, so this could have easily gone the other way, given the walks and errors. I think the Braves left 16 men on base for the game.

Marte was lights out....again. Burnett was OK, but he still didn't have good command. He did battle back, though....I love this kid's heart, I just hope the stuff is good enough to keep him around

In the 2nd game, as I mentioned in Eric's post regarding JVB, I thought he was pretty good for 4 innings....threw 90-93 with good movement....lots of swinging strikes and several strikeouts at key times. His curveball was a pretty effective 2nd pitch. The difference was the 5th inning as he just ran out of gas....his pitch count wasn't real high coming in to the inning but his fastball really flattened out and he got it up in the strike zone. The Pirate's defense was pretty bad again, which is really starting to concern me....this goes beyond missing Jack. Perhaps you can write it off a little bit to the cold weather, but I think it's more mental lapses than anything.

The offense didn't generate much in either game, but the 2nd game was bad. This looked very much like a team whose thoghts were halfway to St. Louis.

We will find out where this team stands in the next three weeks with 22 games in the division. We need to win about ten or more to stay within range of respectability..


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 2:05 am 
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Good report. I went to game 1, so I'll throw my two cents in here.

The cold didn't bother me for one game, but I think I would have frozen in my sweatshirt and windbreaker if I had stuck around for both, so I called it a day after one.

I sat in section 328, row C, which is down the left field line in the second deck. It was my first time at upstairs at PNC Park, and I liked it. I would definitely choose second level seats behind the plate or on the third base side if I was entertaining an out of towner at a game, but I really prefer the first level on the first base side.

Brad is dead on the money regarding Freddy's arm. On the play he mentioned about the short flip to Bixler, I immediately thought the same thing: Freddy wanted to flip it so that he didn't have to make the throw to first. Ditto on Michaels defense. The play on the foul ball would have been a decent play, but it's one I'd expect most outfielders to make.

I couldn't tell if Duke was getting squeezed or not, but he cannot continue to walk more than one or two guys a start. He just gives up too many hits to continue getting away with that no matter how many DP balls he manages to coax out of hitters.

Fifth inning, no score, runners on first and second, nobody out, Bautista at the plate. Bixler up next, followed by Duke, whose pitch count is low enough that he should be good for at least two more innings. WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU BUNT BAUTISTA IN THAT SITUATION? Consider that bunting runners up from first and second is a lot tougher than just bunting a guy to second. The throw to third is much shorter. More importantly, consider who you are bunting those runners up FOR. Bixler and Duke. That's a bad, bad bet to make. I might have been okay with the bunt if it was Bixler at the plate, and if Duke was up, it's mandatory. But not with anyone else in that game's lineup. I'd rather let the guy who can hit a little swing away than bunt up two runners for two guys who can't hit at all. That but means that either Bixler or Duke MUST get a hit or a walk, or else you must pinch hit for Duke if Bixler fails to drive in a run or two.

Or if Bixler gets hit by a pitch, which is exactly what happened. Bixler was nailed in the back of the neck. It looked like it might have been serious, but he recovered and took his base. Since he reached, Duke's almost inevitable strikeout didn't keep Freddy Sanchez from batting. I think you all know my position on clutch hitting, but there is nobody on the team that I'd rather have at the plate with two outs and runners in scoring position in a tie game, and he came through with a double down the right field line, scoring three runs and causing me to regret that Russell received positive reinforcement for a move I'd call a blunder.

By the way, Bixler showed that a sore neck doesn't keep you from absolutely FLYING from first to home on a two out double. That kid can motor. And he did make some fine plays defensively today. Here's hoping that he can get his bat straightened out.

LaRoche's home run was a screaming line drive of at least 400 feet, just to the left of the right field grandstand. It's one of the longest line drive homers I've ever seen.

Marte darn near made a great, great defensive play that would have been a certain web gem. An Atlanta hitter bunted for a hit, a beautiful bunt right down the first base line. Marte was the only guy who had any chance at it. He sprinted over, dove for the ball, caught it bare handed, and made an on the money backhand toss to LaRoche at first before his body even hit the ground. He had no chance of getting the runner, but it was a remarkable display of athleticism. Heck, I'd make it a web gem even though he didn't get the runner.

That being said, this may be the worst defensive Pirates team I've ever seen. Bad gloves and not much range: one or the other describes almost the whole club, and both apply to far too many.

I'm usually pretty impressed with the Pirates employees, but they have to do better than the semi-educated slouches they had at the food stand I went to today. And the Hebrew National foot long hot dog may have been a foot long, but it wasn't hot, and neither were the grilled onions and peppers they put on it. A girl was in front of me in the first line I went to. She ordered a chicken sandwich. They had just put the chicken on the grill, so she said that she'd wait. So far, so good. But then it became obvious that the cashier had no intention of taking any orders until that girl had her sandwich. So everybody in our line had to wait for chicken sandwiches to cook, whether we wanted one or not. Ye gods. The only reason I didn't explode was that the other line emptied out. If you're going to put a losing team on the field, you can't afford to make those sorts of mistakes.

I was not sitting in the all you can eat section, but I did walk past the all you can eat refreshment stand in the bottom of the first inning, and the line was very long, especially when you consider the low attendance for this game. There is a limit to how much food you can get per trip to the stand. If the length of that line was typical, I don't see how a family could get its money's worth for $35 without missing several long stretches of play. My ticket was only $9. It would take some serious eating to close that $26 gap in a single 9 inning game, even at sky high ballpark prices.

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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 8:52 am 
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Great info guys, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:14 am 
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Ralphie wrote:
Great info guys, thanks.

Thanks. I have one correction to my post. From the second level LaRoche's home run looked like a screaming line drive, but I saw it on the news late last night and the trajectory looked to be much higher, so I guess I was fooled by my angle of observation.

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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 10:20 am 
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Sisy...the homerun from my vantage point (behind first base) was more on a line than a high towering shot. I don't think it would have gone our if it had to clear Clemente wall...it landed just to the left ot it. I'm guessing it was about 390-400 feet.
Also, as much of a proponent as I am of the sac. bunt, I was VERY suprised to see it in that situation for the reasons you mentioned. My first assumption was that they must have been planning to yank Duke for a PH, but even then it was questionable and we really caught a break that it got to Sanchez.

Glad you reminded me of the Marte play....it was more incredible than any of Bixler's plays. If he gets that out call, it would have been one of the better plays of the year.


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 10:51 am 
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Great reports. Thanks.

sisyphus wrote:
I sat in section 328, row C, which is down the left field line in the second deck. It was my first time at upstairs at PNC Park, and I liked it. I would definitely choose second level seats behind the plate or on the third base side if I was entertaining an out of towner at a game, but I really prefer the first level on the first base side.


I'm convinced there aren't any bad seat at PNC. I prefer the first level as well, but if you go upstairs, you can't beat the 313-319 section right behind home plate. When I take the kids, that's where we head. Great value without breaking the bank.


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:39 am 
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bradf wrote:
Sisy...the homerun from my vantage point (behind first base) was more on a line than a high towering shot. I don't think it would have gone our if it had to clear Clemente wall...it landed just to the left ot it. I'm guessing it was about 390-400 feet.


Yep, it was more of a line drive than a towering shot, but it looked a lot lower from my seats than it did on TV. Still impressive, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 12:49 pm 
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Great tag-team report. What I took out of all of this is that I need to get to know some "vendors". :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 1:25 pm 
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If the intention was - for sure - to have Duke bat, I also disagree with Bautista bunting there. Although I did not think that the Braves would pitch around Bixler to get to Duke, I simply do not have enough confidence in Bixler that he would be able to drive the ball out of the infield or to put the ball in a situation where a runner would score. My analysis has nothing to do with trying to score 1 run versus 2 runs or 3 runs, etc. in that particular inning. In fact, I thought that the game was shaping up to be a low scoring affair where a manufactured run here and a manufactured run there would likely end up winning the game. Thus, if Sanchez was on second, McLouth on first with no outs in that situation with Michaels up, I would have called for a bunt. But, in that case, I would have expected Bay or Doumit to come through. I didn't see that being a likely result or a favorable scenario with Bixler and Duke coming up.

Thanks to Freddy for making the questionable strategic move become a non-issue!

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 3:06 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
If the intention was - for sure - to have Duke bat, I also disagree with Bautista bunting there.


Exactly what I thought. I don't think he had any intention of batting for Duke, either.

I wouldn't kick up that big of a fuss with your Michaels scenario, either, but I believe that Michaels was batting fifth, not third.

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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 3:32 pm 
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Understood. Just trying to create a contrasting hypothetical . . .

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: Game report x 2
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 4:15 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
If the intention was - for sure - to have Duke bat, I also disagree with Bautista bunting there. Although I did not think that the Braves would pitch around Bixler to get to Duke, I simply do not have enough confidence in Bixler that he would be able to drive the ball out of the infield or to put the ball in a situation where a runner would score.


That is true. Bixler has struggled to do anything on offense.

When Bautista has a bad game hitting (something that occurs far too often), the the 7-9 hitters basically do nothing. That is 1/3 of the lineup. That means the Pirates have 6 innings to score, while the opposition has 8 (counting the pitcher as a throwaway) or even 9 (if the pitcher can help the offense).

P.S. Good job, Brad. Thx for the report.


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