Overtime: Believe it or not, the Buccos are still in it!


:10—Just some random thoughts on baseball from a random mind. The Buccos stand at 17-19 through Monday night, May 6, and though the 9-2 start has been forgotten and wasted, they are still only a few games below .500. No one in the NL Central is running away with the division, either. So believe it or not, the Bucs are still in this thing.

:09—Jared Jones. Saturday night, May 4, the 22-year-old phenom pitched seven shutout innings, struck out 10, allowed one hit and walked zero batters. He is the real deal. His ERA sits at 2.63 and he has four quality starts on his resume. Did I mention his wicked attitude on the mound, too? He knows he’s better than the hitter and he has the stare down to prove it. And don’t lie, before training camp none of us had ever even heard of the young man. This is the future of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball. He is electric. He hits his spots. He is nasty. He is amazing.

:08—Let’s waste no more time and talk about the other half of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ future, Paul Skenes and his 100+ mph fastball. In seven starts in Triple A Indianapolis, Skenes has a 0.99 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 27 innings and has looked  like a pitcher ready for his major league debut since his first pitch. His fastball routinely tops 100 mph, he’s only walked eight batters and his command of his entire arsenal is off the charts. He should be pitching here very, very soon. Sunday afternoon, May 5, as he was walking off the mound, he tipped his hat to the crowd and my thought is he did this because he knew he was heading to the Pirates and this was his last game pitching in front of the Indianapolis crowd. Here’s hoping he makes his debut within the next two weeks and provides the Pirates with a legitimate one-two punch on the mound they haven’t seen in decades, if ever.

:07—Rightly or wrongly, Pirates mega-sized shortstop Oneil Cruz is looked at by the fan base as the face of the Pirates’ everyday players. After a decidedly head-scratching rough patch, Cruz has begun to rip the ball as we have all hoped and prayed he would, blasting two home runs this past weekend that still haven’t landed. With the light-hitting Pirates squandering so many good starts from the pitching corps, if Cruz can keep lighting it up and, as we know, hitting can be infectious, maybe the likes of Bryan Reynolds, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Jack Suwinski can take it up a notch and provide some semblance of an offensive attack to back Jones, Skenes, Bailey Falter and Mitch Keller.

:06—Speaking of Mitch Keller, can we stop calling him an ace, a #1 starter, a stopper? This guy is a #4 starter for the rest of the season and couldn’t stop a nose bleed. Now, on Monday night, May 6, he had an outstanding start. A complete game, only giving up one run on five hits in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. But he needs to show more of this to be considered an ace. C’mon man, pick it up, you have the talent. Get your head in the game and earn that new high salary you’re receiving.

:05—Former Pirates update—Relief pitcher for the N.Y. Yankees, Clay Holmes, leads the major leagues with 11 saves, Tyler Glasnow is 6-1 with an ERA of 2.70 with a major league-leading 63 strikeouts and six quality starts with the hated L.A. Dodgers, and Jameson Taillon is 3-0 with a microscopic 1.13 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. And let’s not forget the reigning Cy Young Award winning Garrett Cole who is rehabbing from an injury and should be back on the mound for the Yankees within a month. For these four excellent pitchers the Pirates in return received a fungo bat (old school—go ask your dad) and a bag of used baseballs with the seams split. I’m just saying.

:04—Number one overall draft pick catcher Henry Davis has been optioned back to the Triple A Indianapolis Indians where it is hoped he can find his batting stroke after hitting an anemic .162 with no home runs and only four RBI in 23 games. After an eye-popping spring training, Davis is completely lost and overwhelmed on the major league level and needs to regain his confidence and batting eye before he returns. Even if it takes all season.

:03—Switching it up a bit, has anyone followed the Stanley Cup playoffs? Yeah, me either.

:02—The NBA playoffs are in full swing with Boston vs. Cleveland and the N.Y. Knicks versus the upstart Indiana Pacers in the East and out West the defending champs, the Denver Nuggets, already down two games, have their hands full with the Minnesota Timberwolves while the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Dallas Mavericks. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict Boston and NY in the East and Denver and Oklahoma City in the West. With no rooting interest in the games since the Lakers went down in flames, I find myself able to simply kick back in my recliner and watch the games with an analytical eye and enjoy the sheer power and athleticism of today’s NBA players. And on that note, with an incredibly stacked lineup for the upcoming Summer Olympics, the U.S. squad should win the Gold Medal handily.

:01—Sunday, May 5, just as the rain basically stopped, the Pittsburgh Marathon got underway and thousands of runners took to the beautiful Pittsburgh streets to compete against the clock and finish the marathon. Your men’s winner was Andrew Bowman, 30, in an impressive time of 2:15:50 and your women’s champ was Jane Bareikis with a time of 2:37:37. Congratulations to the winners and all the participants in making this another great success for the city and our marathon and to Dick’s Sporting Goods for their sponsorship of the event.

:00—One final baseball note to rattle your brain. In 1965 the Kansas City Athletics, before they moved to Oakland, signed 59-year-old Satchel Paige to a contract as a gimmick to help attendance. While on the squad the Athletics sent him into a game against the Boston Red Sox and to everyone’s amazement, 59-year-old Satchel Paige threw three shutout innings against the Red Sox. That’s correct, 59 years old and Satchel Paige threw three shutout innings. Satchel Paige is THE Greatest Pitcher of All-Time. Period. End of discussion.


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