Pirates steaming after latest laugher
Snell calls team's situation 'stupid' after Angels romp, 10-1
Sunday, June 24, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Pirates' clubhouse is not quite at the boiling point, but it surely is simmering.
Ian Snell, visibly frustrated after the 10-1 annihilation by the Los Angeles Angels last night at Angel Stadium, made that crystal clear.
"I [expletive] hate this," he said at his stall, his voice rising. "And you can put that in the paper. I [expletive] hate losing. I hate when the team doesn't bring out its full potential. And if they fine me, fine me. I don't care. Because this is getting stupid. We're better than what we're showing."
He was asked if the problem is a lack of effort.
"No, I don't think it's that," Snell continued. "That team that beat us is good. I think they're the best in baseball. But the point is we let the first game of this series get away from us, we let another one get away in Seattle, another one at home ... and it's stupid."
Snell was not alone in that sentiment, apparently.
"There are things that are getting talked about in here that wouldn't be getting talked about if we were winning," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "When you lose, everything gets magnified and you start questioning yourself, questioning each other, wondering why this play was or wasn't made, whether we should have bunted here or there. It's stuff that never should come up."
And what, LaRoche was asked, can be done to stop it?
"This is a very good ball club, but 10-1 ... are they that much better?" left fielder Jason Bay said of the Angels. "We do need to show up a little more, in all aspects."
The Pirates, without question, did not show up in any aspect for their fourth loss in five games on this trip ...
There were more flawed fundamentals, including yet another episode of catcher Ronny Paulino failing to catch a throw to home plate.
The offense did ... well, what the offense does. It mustered a total of five hits and one meaningless run, as Los Angeles' Kelvim Escobar coasted through eight innings.
Snell had a rare hiccup in an otherwise terrific year, giving up six hits in the Angels' five-run second.
And Tony Armas, the team's $3.5 million mopup man, was charged with the other five runs.
Oh, this, too: The Pirates are 31-43, dropping a dozen games below .500 for the first time and, as if by depressing symmetry, dropping a dozen games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers for the first time.
"It's getting tough," shortstop Jack Wilson said. "I think everybody's trying so hard to get up there and do something. Look at the Angels. They're a perfect example. Every player has a job to do, and he does it just right. A lot of times, when you're in a rut like this, everybody tries to do maybe more than they should."
He shook his head.
"It's frustrating. Everybody wants to play better. Everybody wants to win. ... It's getting tough. For me, this is my seventh year and, in some ways, it's the same thing. Or maybe worse. Because I really think this team is better than this."
Los Angeles pounded out 18 hits in the 5-4 victory Friday and had 17 more last night, but the Angels' greatest damage was wrapped within the second inning.
Vladimir Guerrero's grounder caromed off the mound and away from second baseman Freddy Sanchez for a single. And Gary Matthews Jr.'s double put men at second and third.
Howie Kendrick dropped Snell's next pitch into shallow center for a 2-0 lead.
"They didn't hit the ball that hard, but they run the bases so well," Snell said. "I mean, that team does every little thing just perfectly."
Kendry Morales singled Kendrick to third, setting the stage for the Pirates' defense, which does not do every little thing just perfectly.
Shea Hillenbrand lined softly toward Wilson, who willfully let it hit the dirt to put the double play in effect. Wilson kept an eye on Kendrick before flipping to Sanchez for the forceout at second. Sanchez saw Kendrick take off and fired a low but accurate throw home. Paulino, who has had trouble with throws from the outfield all season, could not handle this one from 127 feet, and it was 3-0.
Asked about Paulino's continuing woes on plays at the plate, manager Jim Tracy replied, "I know what you're suggesting and alluding to. It's a ball that you have to catch."
There would be more.
Mike Napoli walked to put men at first and second, and Reggie Willits lined a single to left. The Angels waved home Hillenbrand, and Bay's errant throw went about 10-15 feet to the left of Paulino for another run.
Compounding that, Paulino never budged to try to stop the throw, even though it originated about 250 feet away, and Napoli took third because of it.
Chone Figgins brought him home with a single, and it was 5-0.
Tracy explained Paulino's failure to move toward that ball by saying he had an injury to the arch of his foot. Paulino was seen getting treatment in the dugout from the athletic trainers, but that came after Paulino was erased on a force play the following inning. It was not clear how long Paulino, who remained in the game and later ran the bases again, has had the injury.
Paulino was not immediately available for comment.
Snell settled after that and put up four zeroes, achieving six full innings for the 13th time in his 15 starts. He was charged with those five runs and 10 hits, raising his ERA to 2.92.
"Give Ian credit," Tracy said. "He stayed with it."
The Pirates narrowly avoided their third shutout on this trip when, after one out in the eighth, Xavier Nady doubled and scored on Paulino's single to make it 6-1.
Armas relieved Snell in the seventh and gave up five runs on seven hits over his two innings, including Guerrero's two-run home run in the eighth.