Dog Days of August setting in for Pirates, Starting Rotation


By John Perrotto The dog days of August are more than a baseball cliché. August is the toughest month for players. They have been going almost non-stop since spring training in mid-February and fatigue starts to set in during a long, hot summer. The dog days of August haven’t been good in the early going for the Pirates as they began by getting swept at home in a four-game series by the Chicago Cubs, who have the second-worst record in the major leagues behind Houston. The sweep, which concluded Thursday night at PNC Park, has dropped the Pirates two games under at 54-56 and seven games behind first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central. The Pirates held a percentage point lead in the division following games of July 24. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage are also mindful that it is the dog days of August forRead More »

Morton, Hart playing their way out of a spot in the rotation for 2010


By John Perrotto When the dust had settled following the seven trades the Pirates made from June 3-July 30 that completely reshaped the roster, manager John Russell thought he was sure of one thing. “What I really like about these trades it that we have a very solid rotation now,” Russell said. “We’re strong from 1-5.” It turns out Russell was only three-fifths right in his assessment. Barring an unforeseen major off-season acquisition, only three rotation spots will be set when spring training begins in February. And those spots will belong to pitchers who have been in the rotation all season _ left-handers Zach Duke and Paul Maholm and right-hander Ross Ohlendorf. The two starters acquired in trades, right-handers Charlie Morton and Kevin Hart, have been major disappointments. Morton, picked up from Atlanta in the Nate McLouth trade, is 3-8 with a 5.35 ERA in 15 starts. Hart, acquired fromRead More »

MLB: Pirates won’t pursue a veteran starting pitcher in the off-season


Pirates won’t pursue a veteran starter Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports The Pirates were somewhat active last off-season searching for a veteran starting pitcher. The team reached out to a number of veterans including Pedro Martinez, Odalis Perez, Braden Looper and even Paul Byrd. This off-season, the organization won’t be looking to sign a veteran starter. The team is prepared to move forward with their current staff that includes 11 game winner Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Hart and Charlie Morton. Paul Maholm (7-7) had had a disappointing season but Neal Huntington & Co are believers in him and blame his struggles on his health. Maholm has been battling some minor injuries since early June. Zach Duke is the wild card in the off-season. Duke’s salary will double ($2.2 million) after the season via arbitration. The Pirates received a number of inquiries on Duke during the trade deadline. If theRead More »

Ohlendorf wins 11th game of the season


Pittsburgh 5 – Milwaukee 2 Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports Starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf (11-8) continues to be a bright spot for the last place Pirates as the right hander allowed only one run over seven-plus innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates (48-70) beat the Milwaukee Brewers (58-61) 5-2 Tuesday night at PNC Park Ohlendorf, the Pirates lone 10+ game winner, has three of the Pirates five wins since July 24th and is 4-1 since the All-Star break. “At the beginning of the season, I think I felt pretty good, but I feel a lot better now,” Ohlendorf said. “I feel like I’m throwing the ball much better. I really feel like since I went over my head that’s helping me out a lot, I’m pitching with a lot of confidence. That been a big key for me.” Ohlendorf allowed a solo home run to Brewers 1B Prince FielderRead More »

Will the Pirates lose 100 games?


Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports With 51 games remaining in the 2009 season, the question is not whether the Pirates will avoid their 17th straight losing season but the question is whether the Pirates will lose 100 games for second time this decade. In the midst of a 8 game losing streak, and only two wins in their last 15 games, the Pirates begin a 6 game road trip which begins in Colorado (62-50) and ends with a three game series against the Chicago Cubs (58-52). The losing streak could easily reach 14, before the Pirates return home for a 9 game home-stand. To avoid losing 100 games for the first time since 2001, the Pirates have to win 18 of their final 51 games. Inside the Numbers *Why the Pirates will lose 100 games 34 of the 51 remaining games are against divisional opponents; The Pirates areRead More »

Ohlendorf, Pirates shutout streaking Marlins 8-0


Ross Ohlendorf pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and Nate McLouth drove in four runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-6) beat the Florida Marlins (11-2) 8-0 Monday night at PNC Park. The Pirates snapped the Marlins seven game winning streak, and the win was the Pirates third shutout in four games. Ohlendorf was subperb, notching his first win in a Pirates uniform as the Pirates now have two more shutouts than they had during the entire 2008 season.. As a staff, I think we get along really well and push each other, and it does seem to be breeding confidence and competition between us to see who can pitch the best,” Ohlendorf said. McLouth’s three run homer in the 6th inning capped off a four-run innings. McLouth’s homer (440 ft) to right center was the 24th homerun to reach the Allegheny River, since PNC park opened in 2001. TheRead More »

Hampton stifles Pirates in 4-1 win


By John Perrotto Ross Ohlendorf and Mike Hampton both faced 23 batters Wednesday night at PNC Park in the Pirates‚Äô 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Ohlendorf, the Pirates‚Äô right-hander, threw the first pitch for strikes to 14 of those batters. Hampton, the Astros‚Äô left-hander, threw 17 first-pitch strikes. That might not seem like a big difference but Pirates manager John Russell felt it was the deciding factor in his team dropping back to .500 at 4-4 and the Astros snapping their five-game losing streak. ‚ÄúHampton got ahead of the hitters all night and put our guys on the defensive,‚Äù Russell said. ‚ÄúRoss was the opposite. He kept falling behind and running a lot of 3-2 counts and it‚Äôs tough to pitch effectively that way.‚Äù Ohlendorf used his two-seam fastball effectively in his first start of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals last Thursday as he allowed three runsRead More »

Ohlendorf impressive in 2-1 loss


By John Perrotto ST. LOUIS _ During the final days of spring training, a scout from another National League team was asked to identify the Pirates player who impressed him the most during the exhibition season. He answered Ross Ohlendorf without hesitation after watching the big right-hander post a fine 2.55 ERA in Grapefruit League play. ‚ÄúYou can just see it all coming together for him,‚Äù the scout said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a big, strong guy with a good arm and a good head on his shoulders. He looks better than I‚Äôve ever seen him before. I think he‚Äôs going to be a handful for opposing hitters this season.‚Äù Ohlendorf certainly looked that way in his first start of the regular season Thursday at Busch Stadium, though he took a tough 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and Chris Carpenter, who combined with two relievers on a one-hitter. Ohlendorf allowed twoRead More »

Reliever Sean Burnett will be apart of the opening day roster


By John Perrotto_ Much of the focus in the Pirates’ spring training camp has been on sorting out the starting rotation and there are two open spots with a little less three weeks remaining before opening day. Right-handers Jason Davis, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Virgil Vasquez are the candidates to join left-handers Paul Maholm and Zach Duke and right-hander Zach Duke. The smart money says that

Tuesday’s News & Notes; Pitcher Rankings through 11 days of workouts; ETA 2009 for Alvarez?


Brian Kelly from Bradenton reports the following Infielder Luis Cruiz will miss 7-10 days with a hip injury. Tough break for Cruiz. Team seems high on him and he‚Äôs a sleeper in spring training to make the squad. From what I‚Äôve seen from him, he is a better option than Brian Bixler whose time in the organization is hanging by a thread. Middle infielder Ruben Gotay is seen as a good depth acquisition throughout the organization. The Pirates could still add a few more players in the next 4 weeks as the team has an offer on the table to reliever Will Ohman and remains interested in Pedro Martinez. Eight pitchers threw practice today: Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, John Grabow, Paul Maholm, Jason Davis, Zach Duke and Denny Bautista. All pitchers threw live batting practice. Daniel McCutchen, a sleeper in camp threw well today. He‚Äôs not a power pitcher butRead More »