The big 2-0

How would the Bucs clinch their 20th straight losing season after being no-hit for their 81st loss on Friday?  A blown save and a TOOTBLAN, of course!

Wandy Rodriguez pitched a very solid game.  Over six innings, he gave up just two runs on six hits; putting the Bucs in a great situation to win.  His offense picked him up with three runs.  Garrett Jones smashed his 26th bomb of the season with Josh Harrison on first, and Cutch gave the lead in the fifth when he drove in Alex Presley.

Johnny Cueto, in search of his 20th win, stayed in the game until the eighth.  He got the no-decision, but that didn’t guarantee a Pirates’ win.  Jason Grilli took over in the top of the eighth and struck out the side.  Heading into today, the Bucs were a perfect 69-0 when leading after eight innings;  a sign of Joel Hanrahan‘s dominance this year.  He hasn’t been perfect, but when he’s blown saves, the offense has picked him up and won the game.  This time was different.  Xavier Paul, a member of the 2011 Buccos, led off with a game-tying home run to RF.  With two outs, Hammer continued to get tortured by another mediocre member of last year’s Pirates.  Ryan Ludwick came in as a pinch-hitter and doubled to LF.  It should have been a single, but Starling Marte brutally misplayed the ball and allowed Ludwick to get into scoring position.  Zack Cozart doubled in the go-ahead run, making it 4-3 Reds.

The game was still far from over, though, as Aroldis Chapman came in for the save.  His control issues continued when he walked Jose Tabata on four pitches.  Chapman overthrew a pickoff attempt and Tabata was off to the races.  Nick Leyva waved him all the way to third, where he was gunned down by a perfect throw from Cincinnati second baseman Wilson Valdez.  Tabata had committed one of the worst mistakes a ballplayer can make – getting thrown out at third for the first out.  Clint Barmes walked next and Rod Barajas singled, which would have scored Tabata.  But the Pirates’ luck had run out as Michael McKenry and Starling Marte struck out to complete the worst collapse in baseball history.

That’s it.  Two whole decades without a winning team in Pittsburgh.  It really is a shame.  The Pirates broke their own record for most consecutive losing seasons and became the only team in MLB history to go from 16 games over .500 to turning in a sub-.500 season.  History has been made.

Pirates (77-82) – Reds (96-63)

Win: Sean Marshall (5-5)
Loss: Hanrahan (5-2)
Save: Chapman (37)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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The number 20

Here are a couple facts about the number 20 from Wikipedia (a.k.a. some of the best information!):

- It’s a tetrahedral number (1 + 3 + 6 + 10 = 20)
– It’s the atomic number of Calcium
– It’s the third magic number in physics
– There are 20 baby teeth
– The Kentucky Derby has a maximum field of 20 horses
– 20 is the age at which a person is no longer a teenager
– 20 is the age of majority in Japanese tradition
– The $20 bill features the portrait of Andrew Jackson

Some famous #20’s in baseball:

Pirates players to wear the number:

Ooh, here’s a new one:

History Will Be Made … History Has Been Made

Sigh.

Cutch happens big time

After sinking to the lowest of the low’s on Friday night by getting no-hit, the Bucs bounced back to delay their 82nd loss by at least another day.  It was a close game, with both starters throwing well.  The stage was set for some dramatics in the ninth, and Cutch stepped up.

Kyle McPherson, still looking for his first big-league win, took the hill and looked great.  He got into a jam in the first, but retired the Reds’ 3-4-5 hitters to strand two runners and avoid any first-inning runs.  He pitched six innings, shutting out the Reds by giving up just four hits.  Although he got the no-decision and couldn’t pick up his first win, he finished off his rookie season well and set himself up for a potential roster spot in 2013.

The Pirates couldn’t get much going at the plate.  Mike Leake matched McPherson with six innings of four-hit ball, with the only real chance of scoring against him coming in the second when Pedro Alvarez hit a ground-rule double.

The bullpens took over, and the Bucs scratched out a run.  Clint Barmes singled to left, got to second on an overthrown pickoff, and was bunted over to third.  Clint Hurdle decided that pinch-running Chase d’Arnaud for 90 feet was more important than leaving Barmes’ defense in the game.  If he’d been on second with two outs, this might make more sense.  Regardless, Alex Presley doubled to the gap and it didn’t matter who was on third because they scored easily.  1-0 Bucs with the back of the bullpen ready to take over.

After a plethora of defensive replacements, Jason Grilli continued to struggle.  He couldn’t escape Ryan Ludwick‘s leadoff double and gave up the tying run with two outs.  The Pirates left two runners on base in the eighth, and same with the Reds in the ninth.  Joel Hanrahan got out of the inning after giving up two walks.

Enter Andrew McCutchen.  With one out, Cutch stepped into the box against Jonathan Broxton.  He smoked an opposite-field walk-off bomb to right-center.  His third career walk-off couldn’t have come at a better time.  The crowd needed something to cheer about, and they couldn’t have asked for anything better.  Cutch might be slipping from the MVP and batting title races, but he’s still a heck of a player to watch.

Pirates (77-81) – Reds (95-63)

Win: Hanrahan (5-1)
Loss: Broxton (4-4)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

A new low

For the first time since 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates were no-hit.  While Bob Gibson (1971) and Homer Bailey aren’t nearly on the same level, the disappointment and shame was still there.  It wasn’t necessarily the no-hitter that is disappointing.  It’s the result of the no-no.  With the 1-0 loss, a winning season is now impossible, making it TWO WHOLE DECADES since the Pirates have had a winning team.

Bailey was matched up with A.J. Burnett, who pitched a gem himself.  A.J. got himself into a bases-loaded-no-outs jam in the first, but escaped with just one run scoring on a sacrifice-fly as he rolled a double play to get out of the inning.  That would be all the Reds got off of Burnett in his eight innings of work.  He allowed just seven hits and struck out five, but it’s tough to top a near-perfect performance.

Homer Bailey asserted his dominance from the start, and the Bucs had no chance.  A few balls were hit hard by Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider, but the lone chance the Pirates had was when Andrew McCutchen walked in the seventh – one of the two blemishes that kept Bailey from a perfect game, the other being an error by Scott Rolen.  Cutch swiped second with one out, which was risky, but it worked.  Then he just got greedy.  The next pitch, he was thrown out at third (looked safe, but the throw beat him) for the second out.  From that point, the no-hitter was pretty much immanent.  Alex Presley is now part of a trivia question – popping-out to the second baseman for the 27th out with a zero still in the “H” column.

Congrats to Bailey on his piece of baseball history.  No-hitters are awesome, but this one brought the Pirates down to rock bottom.

Pirates (76-81) – Reds (95-62)

Win: Bailey (13-10)
Loss: Burnett (16-9)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

*Hopefully* the last loss of 2012

The Pirates have now pushed their luck to the limit.  They lost to the Mets 6-5 for their 80th loss of the season.

Rod Barajas and Jordy Mercer got the Bucs an early lead against R.A. Dickey with RBIs a piece.  Ike Davis got one run right back against Kevin Correia, but Barajas neutralized it with a solo shot in the fourth.

To beat a pitcher like Dickey, you have to get a few runs early and hope your starter can keep the lead.  The Pirates just couldn’t follow through on the latter.  The score was 3-2 heading to the fifth thanks to an absolutely unreal catch by Travis Snider.  He scaled the RF wall to rob Mike Baxter of a home run and preserve the lead for the time being.  Definitely one of the best catches ever by a Pirate.  But despite help from his defense, Correia couldn’t hold off the Mets.  A single tied it up and David Wright mashed a three-run bomb that gave the Metropolitans the 6-3 lead.

That would be all Dickey, who locked in and made the Bucs look foolish at the plate, would need.  He struck out 13 batters in 7.2 innings on his way to his 20th win of the season.  Alex Presley got the Pirates within a run in the ninth with a two-run shot, but Bobby Parnell came in to get the last two outs and hold off the Buccos.  Congrats to R.A. on his milestone-win.  He’s definitely been one of the best stories in 2012 and is a likable guy.

That’s it.  Gotta win out to get that winning season.

Pirates (76-80) – Mets (72-84)

Win: Dickey (20-6)
Loss: Correia (11-11)
Save: Parnell (5)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs