Good morning, all, and welcome to a rare early edition of From the Cubicle. Bloody Marys and mimosas (for the Cubs fans in the house) are available at the bar.
Apparently my boss didn't read the clause in my contract about "nothing before noon," so I'll bring you all action in the final game of this three-game series on the eve of Barrett-Pierzynski II.
You can update your Thabo Sefolosha fan site later. Join us.
The unbeatable and huggable Jose Contreras takes the mound for the Sox looking for his 17th straight dating back to last season. (of course, we'll overlook the fact that Contreras lost Game 1 of the ALCS.) The horrible Pittsburgh Pirates send lefty Zach Duke out in an attempt to stop the bleeding of a 13-straight losing streak. If this crew were real Pirates they'd all be in Davy Jones Locker by now.
Argh, matey. Baseball be soon.
Sit back, relax, put your feet up, take your teeth out, pretend your busy, tune in, drop out, and strap it down. Today's lineups.
Scott Podsednik leads off with a single. Alex Cintron bloops a broken-at single over the shortstop's head. As Hawk and DJ discuss the so-called sophomore jinx, Hawk says there's something to it. To which DJ responds, "Yes, there is. They didn't just pull that out of the rabbit's hat." I haven't seen too many hat-wearing rabbits, but Paul Konerko lines a single to left to score Pods. Cintron takes third. Jermaine Dye fights off a few pitches on his hands to work the count full before reaching out and singling to left, scoring Cintron. Four straight singles off Duke give the Sox an early 2-0 lead. The Pirates pitching coach walks out to discuss whether or not candle sticks make a nice gift. Joe Crede grounds to the left of first baseman Jose Hernandez, who makes a nice play and throws a one-hopper to second to get Dye. Jose Hernandez!? First and third for Chris Widger. Widger bounces to third baseman Freddy Sanchez who steps on the bag, starting a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Sox 2, Pirates 0
Joses all around. Jose Bautista, one of three Joses in the Pirates' lineup today, will face Jose Contreras to start the bottom half of the first. Contreras gets the better of that one. He throws a side-armed fastball by Bautista for strike three. Jack Wilson hits one off of the drawn-in Joe Crede's glove and into left for a single. Freddy Sanchez breaks his bat but the ball drops in front of Podsednik for a hit. Jason Bay hits the first pitch from Contreras off the base of the wall in right for a double, driving home Wilson. Len Kasper man-crush Jeromy Burnitz digs in. Burnitz knocks in Sanchez with a deep flyball to center. Tie game. Contreras strikes out Jose Castillo to end the inning.
Sox 2, Pirates 2
Juan Uribe and Brian Anderson go down easily. I'd add "as usual" to that preceding sentence but Uribe came up big last night. This should be fun: Jose Contreras with a bat in his hand. And he draws a walk. Man, the Pirates aren't even holding him on first base. Podsednik singles again. Cintron knocks in both runners with a double to the right-center gap. A two-out clutch hit for Cintron, who has been getting it done. Konerko bounces out, but the Sox take the lead again.
Sox 4, Pirates 2
Hernandez is up and I'm going to go out on a very tiny limb and say he'll strike out. Nope. He bounces a 2-2 pitch back through the box for a single. Ronny Paulino singles to right. Contreras is not looking so sharp right now. Duke bunts both runners over. Bautista lines out to Podsednik and Hernandez tags and scores. Jack Wilson bloops out to Crede behind third.
Sox 4, Pirates 3
Dye bounces out to Castillo at second. Crede lines out to left. Widger strikes out swinging and the Sox go down in order.
This salt-and-pepper bowl-cutted, Mark Cuban-Pedro Gomez love child, American Idol loser on these Ford commercials has to go. Now. (I read that Cuban-Gomez thing somewhere.) Sanchez bounces out. Bay pops out to Uribe. The beloved Burnie draws a walk. Contreras is throwing a lot of pitches and taking his time between them. Castillo singles. Hernandez bounces a single through the hole on the side and Burnie hustles around and scores from second to it at 4-4. Ozzie comes out to talk with Contreras and, perhaps, to challenge his sexuality. Whatever he said it worked because Paulino bounces out to second to end the inning.
Sox 4, Pirates 4
Uribe doubles to left. Brian Anderson grounds out to the left side and Uribe can't advance. Contreras breaks his bat grounding to second. Castillo throws to second, Uribe gets back and they stil have time to get Contreras at first. When his bat broke, Contreras stood at the plate for a moment looking at the handle left in his hand as if to say, "What the?" or maybe "Que?" Podsednik flies out to end it.
Contreras gets Duke before Bautista hits a broken-bat single to center. What's with all the broken bats? Contreras throws one in the dirt to first to get Bautista and it gets by Konerko. Bautista is off and running and tries to take third, only to get gunned down. Just a bit greedy there. Jack Wilson flies out to center.
Sox 4, Pirates 4
Cintron lines out to Jack Wilson. Just a reminder but July 21 is Mullet Night at the Cell. And speaking of mullets, Argentina will lose to Germany, as someone on the board says. Konerko grounds a single just out of the reach of a diving Sanchez at third. I don't know if any of you have caught the Diving Sanchezes in Reno, but they're great. Dye singles. Crede flies out to Burnitz but Konerko isn't going anywhere. Never test the arm of Burnie! Widger pops out in foul ground and the two singles go to waste.
Sanchez legs out an infield single. Guy's had some pretty cheap hits today. Bay grounds a single through the hole on the left side. The Pirates are hitting Contreras and his control hasn't been that great, but most of these hits are through the holes or bloops or broken-bat flares. Burnie bounces a 3-0 pitch to Konerko who starts a nice 3-6-1 DP. Castillo's two-out single up the middle scores Sanchez. Contreras strikes out Hernandez.
Pirates 5, Sox 4
Uribe grounds out to Sanchez at third. Anderson is up and Contreras is standing in the on-deck circle. Anderson hits it over Bay's head and off the wall in left. He then misses first base, has to go back but still has time to get to second. Goodness. Contreras hits in the sixth inning of a one-run game with a guy on second and Cliff Politte up in the pen. He strikes out. Again, goodness. Ozzie sticks with his guy. This is the Pirates, afterall. Podsednik flies out to center. Someone get Anderson his hat, glove and shades as well as a Tom Emanski base-running video.
Paulino grounds out to Cintron. Nate McClouth pinch hits for Duke and draws a walk on four pitches. It's now raining pretty hard in Pittsburgh chasing the few fans in attendance to cover. There are a few drunks behind home plate still there. Bautista rips a single to left and McClouth takes third. And crew chief Joe West calls for the tarpt. Ugh! Stay tuned. We're now in a delay. Bring on TWIB! Looking at the radar, the rain cells look pretty small and isolated. I'm going to get some lunch. I'll be back shortly. OK, we're back. That was brief. Just enough time to stuff my face with cafeteria chicken parmesan. David Riske is the Sox's new pitcher coming out of the delay and he'll face Jack Wilson with runners on the corners and one out. Bautista--he's the guy on first, if you'll recall-- takes off for second and Widger throws through and nails him. No way the Pirates were expecting that throw to go to second. And McClouth just stood there rooted to third base. Duh. Anyway, Riske walks Wilson putting runners back on the corners. Sanchez hits one off his fists down the right-field line to score McClouth. Seriously, this guy Sanchez is second in the NL in batting and he hasn't hit a ball hard all day and has three hits. Guy's living the life. Bay bounces out to Crede.
Pirates 6, Sox 4
Cintron singles off Solomon Torres, the new Pirates pitcher. Konerko chases a ball in the dirt and strikes out. Dye gives it a ride to right but Burnie catches up to it on the run. Torres drills Crede in the side. Herm Schneider waddles out with Ozzie to check on the third baseman. Crede's fine. I can't say the same for Herm's pants. Widger grounds out to Sanchez, who's having himself a game today.
Neal Cotts trots on to pitch. He gets the great Burnie and then Castillo. Hernandez walks. Paulino grounds up the middle and Uribe makes a nice play on it.
Pirates 6, Sox 4
Former Sox hurler Roberto Hernandez joins the party and he'll face Uribe. Uribe grounds out to Wilson. Former Pirate Rob Mackowiak hits for Anderson and gets a nice reception from the 500 Pirates fans in attendance. Mackowiak battles and singles the other way to left. Now here's Jim Thome, who just crushes the first pitch he sees and two-hops it into the Allegheny. That ball hit a table on the river walk, bounced high in the air, hit the bank and splashed in. DJ says that's the 27 ball hit in the river in the short history of PNC Park. Hernandez gets Podsednik, but Cintron comes back with a two-out single. With Konerko up, Cintron swipes second. Konkero strikes out, but this one is tied.
Sox 6, Pirates 6
Mackowiak takes over in center and Politte on the mound. Mike Ewards hits in the pitcher's spot and Cintron robs him of a hit with a nice leaping grab of a line drive. Politte falls behind Bautista 3-0 before coming back and striking him out. Wilson bounces out to Crede and we move to the ninth.
Sox 6, Pirates 6
The Pirates send out their closer, Mike Gonzalez. Dye draws a leadoff walk. Crede hits it hard but right at Burnitz. You can't get it by Burnie! Ever! Hawk says Widge is due. When is Widger not due? He flies out to left. Uribe works the count 3-0. Or actually he just stood there while Gonzalez threw three straight balls. Uribe walks. But Mackowiak strikes out with two on to end the potential rally.
Just as I said this guy hadn't hit a ball hard all day and just as Hawk echoed my sentiments, Sanchez hits the first ball hard today and it's a game-winning homer to left off Politte. Back to the DL!
Final: Pirates 7, Sox 6
Well, to paraphrase the great American poet Jay-Z, even a garbage can gets a steak every once in awhile. On the bright side, Contreras keeps his streak intact and Jim Thome hit a homer that will be replayed for a while. The Sox lose and the Pirates win. There is a great disturbance in the force. Ozzie and a number of these Sox will be back in Pittsburgh July 7 for the All-Star game and I'll be back tomorrow for another FTC, crosstown style. Hope you can join us. Thanks for reading.