Pirates shaken by latest loss
By Rob Biertempfel
Sunday, June 24, 2007
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The tension in the Pirates' clubhouse was ramped up Saturday night by a 10-1 loss against the Los Angeles Angels.
After being taken out of the game, right-hander Ian Snell fled the dugout to think through his frustrations.
"I didn't want to be anywhere near the team," Snell said. "I think we're better than what we're playing. We're just not showing it.
"Somebody needs to step up. We have veteran guys who need to say something, do something. It's getting out of hand."
Shortstop Jack Wilson has called for a players-only meeting before today's game.
"Everybody here wants to win," Wilson said. "What are we not doing? It comes down to consistency, making plays and having good at-bats. It's almost like we're overwhelmed by playing better teams.
"It shouldn't be that way because everybody in here knows we are 10 times better than we're (playing) right now. It's really tough to take."
The Angels began the second inning by banging out four straight hits and two runs on just five pitches from Snell. Howie Kendrick was on third and Kendry Morales on first, with Shea Hillenbrand at the plate.
Hillenbrand hit a soft, low pop-up. The umpire did not call the infield fly rule, so Wilson let the ball fall in front of him, then flipped it to second base to force Morales for the first out.
Seeing Kendrick break for home, second baseman Freddy Sanchez fired a dead-on strike to Ronny Paulino, who was blocking the plate.
There was just one problem: the Pirates' catcher once again failed to live up to his job description. The ball ticked off Paulino's glove and rolled away, as Kendrick scored.
It was the latest gaffe by Paulino, who often has displayed a curious and costly inability to snare throws when runners are bearing down on him.
The next three batters also reached base against Snell -- a walk, two singles and a throwing error by left fielder Jason Bay -- boosting the Angels to a comfortable 5-0 lead.
In that single inning, Snell (6-5) allowed more runs than he had in any previous game this year -- and two more earned runs than he'd yielded in the previous three games combined.
Snell settled down after that. He went six innings, allowed a season-high 10 hits, walked two and struck out five.
Not that it mattered. The Pirates were unable to make much noise against right-hander Kelvim Escobar (9-3).
Escobar gave up just two singles through the first seven innings, then lost his shutout bid on back-to-back hits in the eighth. Xavier Nady doubled and scored on Paulino's broken-bat single to center.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out, drawing groans from the sellout crowd. But Escobar blindly speared Chris Duffy's hard liner and turned an inning-ending double play.
Escobar has won five of his past six starts and is making a hard push for a spot on the All-Star Game roster.
The Angels added five runs in two innings against reliever Tony Armas. Amid the flurry was Vladimir Guerrero's 14th homer, a two-run shot in the eighth.
"It's stupid. If you set high expectations, go after them. Don't sell yourself short. I don't want that, but so far everybody is showing that. If they get mad at me, oh well.