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Nightmare on the Mound

At some point you just have to feel like everything that can go wrong for the Pirates will go wrong- like last night. Paul Maholm is generally a decent enough pitcher. Through his first 14 starts this season he held a 4.20 FIP and a sub-4 ERA. If a pitcher’s beauty is defined by his FIP, then Maholm isn’t pretty anymore. Here’s how his first inning went last night (note that this was also Maholm’s only inning):

Elvis Andrus walked on four pitches
Michael Young homered
Ian Kinsler grounded out
Vladimir Guerrero walked on four pitches
David Murphy singled
Justin Smoak reached on a fielder’s choice
Matt Treanor flied out

What unfolded above resulted in a 2-0 deficit, which is bad but not completely insufferable. Maholm took the mound in the second down by a lone run and walked Julio Borbon on five pitches. The Rangers would catch a break on an error by Neil Walker. They would then singled in five consecutive plate appearances- 6-1 just like that. Dana Eveland would relieve Maholm and give up another run before escaping the inning.

All told Maholm racked up a -.439 WPA, a 2010 worst for the category. A quick glance through his game logs suggest Wednesday’s disaster is among the five or six worst starts of his career. The last time Maholm was this bad came in late May 2009 against the Cubs. He lasted four innings, allowing seven earned runs, walking three, and striking out two. For comparison, Maholm went one inning last night, allowed five earned, walked four, and struck nobody out. In both games he allowed only one home run and a hit for each run (unearned and earned alike).