Armas off the mark in loss to Dodgers
Righty allows eight runs in 2 2/3 frames; Bucs bats struggle
LOS ANGELES -- After making an inauspicious Pirates debut in 30-degree weather, Pittsburgh right-hander Tony Armas couldn't wait to take the mound again.
Unfortunately, between rain, cold and off-days, he would have to wait 13 days, and when he finally was back out there Friday, it was on a wet and cold Los Angeles night, colder in fact at game time than it was back in Pittsburgh.
Armas allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, and the Pirates didn't have an answer for Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf, falling, 10-2, at Dodger Stadium.
"You want to pitch regularly, but you're a professional, said Armas, who gave up six runs over four innings in his debut on April 7. "You have to be ready whenever you go out there."
Staked to a one-run lead on Xavier Nady's single that plated Jack Wilson, the combination of the layoff and the weather took their toll on Armas, as the Dodgers touched him for two runs in the first inning. Armas walked Rafael Furcal, gave up a single to Juan Pierre and allowed them both to come around on Nomar Garciaparra's sharp single to right.
Asked about the long layoff, manager Jim Tracy was quick to acknowledge its possible effect.
"I think that's definitely something you have to give consideration to," Tracy said.
That was a lot more that Armas was willing to concede.
"I'm not going to make excuses," the righty said. "You're in the big leagues, you have a job to do. I'm just not doing mine. I have to pick it up."
Armas did in fact look as if he was going to settle down, retiring the final two batters of the inning, and six in a row. He showed signs of being the pitcher the Pirates had envisioned when they signed him in the offseason, but he struggled mightily after that.
In the third, Pierre singled, Garciaparra walked, Jeff Kent singled for Los Angeles' third run and Luis Gonzalez drove in Garciaparra to make it 4-1.
Asked to point out the problem, Armas was stumped, saying that he felt good and thought he was making some good pitchers.
"I threw a what I thought was a good splitter to Gonzalez and he just went down and got it," Armas said.
That was just the beginning of the righty's trouble, as he hit Russell Martin on the elbow, let Andre Ethier bring Kent around with a sacrifice fly, and gave a run-scoring single to Wilson Betemit, increasing the Dodgers' lead to 8-1. Finally, Wolf put and end to Armas' night with the only extra-base hit of the inning, a two-run double.
To be fair to Armas, the Dodgers weren't teeing off on his pitches, but there wasn't anything he seemed to be able to do to stop the bleeding.
"It was as if they knew what was coming," Armas revealed. "I would throw a good pitch, but it didn't matter."
For Tracy, there were more concerns than just Armas, mostly Pittsburgh's lack of contact as 12 Pirates went down swinging.
"You can't strikeout 10, 12, 13 times a game and expect to win," Tracy explained. "You have to be able to put the ball in play."
With three more strikeouts, Adam LaRoche now has 20 on the season and has seen his average drop to .100. While Tracy believes that LaRoche will eventually get to the numbers that everyone expects, the Pirates desperately need him to contribute to the offense.
"You can't keep digging yourself big holes and expect to come back," Tracy said.
Tracy's other concern was not how Armas pitched, but for how long he pitched, as the bullpen had to take over in the third.
"Our starting pitching has thrown 6 2/3 innings in the last two games," Tracy pointed out. "That's not a formula for success. It's not going to work."
While the bullpen has been one of the Pirates' strength over the first 13 games, this much use this early is going to cause trouble down the road if it continues.
For Armas, it's a matter of putting this start behind him and showing his teammates what he's capable of.
"You have games like this, but I've never had two back-to-back like this," he said. "And to start off like this is not something you want to do."
The good thing is that the season is still young, and with better weather and regular work, there is no reason to believe that Armas won't give the Pirates what they need.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Armas said.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.