Series split against D-backs

We caught today’s 4:05 game from the all you can eat seats, along with about 20,000 other Bucco fans.  Aside from one good inning, the Pirates really couldn’t get anything going offensively, and lost to the Diamondbacks 6-3.  The series split is pretty disappointing, but hopefully they can make up some ground with the Padres coming into town.

Wandy Rodriguez, making his home debut, got roughed up a bit.  He gave up a two-run homer to Jason Kubel in the first, and another two-run shot to Wil Nieves in the sixth.  He turned in a six-inning start, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks – by no means a bad start, but he certainly wasn’t fooling any batters.  Jordy Mercer, getting his second consecutive start, made a few nice plays at SS to help out Wandy, including a slick spin-o-rama on a ball up the middle.

The Bucs got a big inning in the third off of lefty Joe Saunders.  Three straight singles to start the inning by Gaby Sanchez, Neil Walker, and The Fort got them on the board.  A groundout moved the runners up to second and third, and Jordy Mercer tied the game with a sac-fly.  Wandy came up to the plate first pitch swinging, and laced a groundball up the middle.  It deflected to the first baseman, who fielded it and flipped to Saunders.  It looked like he tripped on the base as he caught the ball, but the umpire called him safe.  It was hard to tell from our angle, but it definitely looked like he was out.  What else would he have tripped on?  Either way, the Pirates caught a break, and Starling Marte took advantage with an RBI-single to take the lead.

That would be it for the Bucs offensively, but the D-backs weren’t done.  Kubel hit his second two-run bomb in the seventh off of Jared Hughes.  That made it 6-3, and it was pretty much over by then.  Jeff Locke did a nice job as he pitched 2.1 innings of no-hit baseball.  Cutch picked up a base hit, and Starling hit a two-out triple in the seventh.  It was such an amazing play – taking it to the opposite field and speeding around the bases. There wasn’t even a play at third.  This guy has been fun to watch.

J.J. Putz closed out the game with ease, earning his 21st save.

Pirates (63-48) – Diamondbacks (57-55)

Win: Saunders (6-8)
Loss: Rodriguez (7-11)
Save: Putz (21)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Bucs hang on to win in the rain

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but the Pirates were able to scratch out a win against the D-backs tonight.  Kevin Correia had one of his typical “bend but don’t break” starts, and the defense was flat out awful.  They made four errors, but the offense was able to pick up the slack and slug its way to a 7-6 win.

Arizona got two runs off of Correia in the first before he even recorded an out.  Luckily, he was able to get out of it with limited damage.  With two down in the bottom of the first, Cutch and Garrett Jones singled.  Neil Walker worked a nice six-pitch AB, before finally taking Ian Kennedy deep to RF for a three-run bomb.

Starling Marte led off the fourth with a solo blast to right-center, but the Bucs went on the leave the bases loaded.  The D-backs got to Correia again in the fifth when Willie Bloomquist doubled in a run, and Pedro booted the possible third out.  It was tied heading in to the bottom half of the fifth, but that would quickly change.  Travis Snider started with a base-knock, and Cutch reached when the second baseman dropped the force out.  Jones singled to load up the bases, and The Hometown Kid struck again.  He doubled into the notch, driving in two to bring his RBI total for the night to five.  Later in the inning, Kennedy threw a wild pitch, which bounced right back to the catcher, leaving Jones hanging to dry between third and home.  Not really his fault, but he couldn’t even get in a rundown to advance the trailing runner.  He also should have scored on the double, which just adds to his poor performance on the night.

Correia pitched a scoreless sixth, which was his last inning.  He gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits – pretty solid.  Jordy Mercer smacked his first career home run to start off the sixth, making it 7-4.  Chris Resop came out in relief, and gave up a leadoff walk.  After Jones made his first error of the inning to put runners on the corners, Paul Goldschmidt got a run in with a sac-fly.  Mercer committed the second team error of the inning, allowing another runner to reach.  Tony Watson came in to clean up the defense’s mess, and got no help.  Jones made his second error of the inning, and third team error on a groundball.  Watson was somehow able to escape the jam by striking out Chris Young, who went absolutely crazy.  He was tossed almost immediately, and had to be restrained by a coach.  As the inning-break continued, Justin Upton also got tossed, which just added to the craziness.  By now, the rain had started to fall, and the game started dragging.

Chad Qualls came in for the eighth, and gave up a run.  With the lead down to just a single run, Joel Hanrahan came in to close out the game – and boy was he locked in.  He struck out the side on thirteen pitches, and earned the save.

It was a pretty wacky game, and the Bucs should feel lucky that they somehow pulled out a win.  Tomorrow’s game is at 4:05, and they’ll go for the series win.  Cincinnati lost, so the Pirates are now within 2.5 games of first place.

Pirates (63-47) – Diamondbacks (56-55)

Win: Correia (9-6)
Loss: Kennedy (10-9)
Save: Hanrahan (33)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Snakebitten

Really depressing game tonight.  Gonna try to forget about this one quickly, but here’s a basic rundown of it.

- The Diamondbacks were getting off some good swings against Jeff Karstens, as he got off to a shaky start.  After giving up three runs in four innings, he seemed to settle down and pitch two straight three-up-three-down innings.  He ended up giving up three runs on eight hits in six innings – not a bad start when you consider how hard he was getting hit.

- Aside from the top three batters, the Pirates offense was pretty bad.  Cutch drove in a run in the first on a strange play that was originally ruled a fielder’s choice, but was later changed to a sacrifice-fly.  With runners on the corners, Cutch hit a fly ball to CF, and Gerardo Parra dropped it.  The run scored, but the runner at first was hung up because he was anticipating a catch.  Basically the Bucs traded an out for a run, and Cutch got to first.

- Travis Snider, on his way to a three-hit night, got some two-out lightning going in the third with a book-rule double.  Cutch came up clutch again, driving him in for his second RBI of the night.  Starling Marte absolutely clobbered a 434 foot home run to start the seventh.  Snider singled and Cutch doubled, putting runners on second and third with no outs.  Garrett Jones was intentionally walked, and Neil Walker drove in the go-ahead run with a sac-fly.

- The main story of the night was how bad the offense was at cashing in on scoring opportunities.  An inning-ending DP left two runners on in the seventh, and the Pirates left eight runners on in total.  They went a combined 1-8 with RISP.  Horrible.

- After Karstens left the game, Tony Watson pitched a scoreless inning, and then the wheels came off.  Jason Grilli came in for the eighth, and gave up three straight hits, followed by a home run to Chris Johnson.  He left the game without record an out, and Chris Resop finished the eighth.  Jared Hughes gave up two more runs in the ninth, including another homer to Johnson.

- The last two innings really just sucked.  Marte’s homer got everyone rocking, and when McKenry hit into the DP to end the inning, the momentum really shifted.  The eighth and ninth innings were just awful.  Oh well, the Bucs can still win the last two games of the series.

The good news is that Cincinnati, Atlanta, and St. Louis all lost.  The bad news is that the Pirates also lost, and couldn’t cash in on the chance to pick up a game on all three teams.

Pirates (62-47) – Diamondbacks (56-54)

Win: Brad Ziegler (5-1)
Loss: Grilli (1-4)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Bedard two-hits D-backs

Coming off of an impressive win against the Reds, the Bucs began their season-long 11-game homestand against the Diamondbacks.  Not that every game isn’t important for the Pirates, but this series has a big impact on the wildcard standings.  Erik Bedard turned in yet another impressive start at home, and the Bucs went on to shut-out the D-backs.  Including tonight, Bedard has an ERA of 2.38 at PNC Park.

The first three innings were pretty uneventful.  Bedard gave up a leadoff double in the second, but pitched his way out of it to strand the runner at third.  He also picked up the Pirates’ first hit, breaking up Wade Miley‘s perfect game with two outs in the third.  The Bucs struck first in the fourth inning, when Cutch led off with a single to CF.  Chris Young bobbled it, allowing Cutch to get to second, and when the SS missed the throw, he got to third.  Some really risky baserunning, but it worked out.  Gaby Sanchez followed with an RBI-groundout, making it 1-0.

Bedard really cruised from there.  He went on to strike out five batters in seven innings, while only giving up two hits.  Paul Goldschmidt doubled in the third, and also had Arizona’s only other hit – a single in the seventh.  He tried to stretch it into a double, but Starling Marte made a beautiful play to get behind the ball and gun him down by ten feet at second base.

There was a chance to break the game open in the fifth when Rod Barajas singled and Clint Barmes doubled to start the inning.  Bedard grounded out, and Marte walked.  Josh Harrison, on his way to an 0-4 day, grounded into an inning-ending double play.  Luckily, it didn’t come back to hurt the Bucs, as they went on to score three more runs in the eighth for insurance.  Cutch led off with a single, followed by a Sanchez base knock on a hit-and-run.  Neil Walker drove in a run with an infield hit, and Travis Snider drove in another.  Barajas followed with a shallow flyout to CF, but Neil tagged and just beat the throw home to make it 4-0.  Although the Diamondbacks were only charged with three errors, they easily could have been charged with four or five.  But thanks to some home-field scoring, the Bucs got some cheap hits.

Jason Grilli and Chad Qualls closed out the game, needing just eight and twelve pitches respectively.  The story of this win was pitching.  Bedard, Grilli, and Qualls were so dominant, and the offense was able to scratch out a few runs in support.  If they can do this more consistently (like they did in April and May), the wins will start piling up as we get into the home stretch of the regular season.

Pirates (62-46) – Diamondbacks (55-54)

Win: Bedard (6-12)
Loss: Miley (12-7)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates @ Diamondbacks 4/18/12

The Pirates concluded their west coast swing today with a 3:40 rubber match at Chase Field against the DBacks.  With a win, the Pirates would win their second series of the year, both being against 2011 playoff teams.  James McDonald made his third start of the year for the Bucs, and Daniel Hudson started for Arizona.

Alex Presley started the game off perfectly, walking and stealing second.  Clint Barmes advanced him to third on a groundout, and then Andrew McCutchen walked to put runners on the corners.  The Bucs looked like they were in a great position to put up some early runs, but Neil Walker grounded into a double play that ended the inning.  Cutch was stealing second on the pitch, and Willie Bloomquist was able to start the DP when he took off to cover second on the steal.  J-Mac got off to a rocky start, giving up a leadoff triple to Bloomquist followed by an RBI single to Aaron Hill.  McDonald gave up another hit and walk, but got through the first inning after 32 pitches.  Michael McKenry singled to start the third, and McDonald followed him.  He squared to bunt on the first pitch, and took strike one.  On the second pitch from Hudson, he pulled his bat back, and slapped a double play ball to Hill.  Not really sure where that call came from, considering that the pitcher is the one guy that should always bunt with a runner on.  What could have been a productive inning turned into a quick 1-2-3.

Both pitchers pitched scoreless innings in the third and fourth.  With Casey McGehee and Michael McKenry on the corners, Nate McLouth pinch hit for McDonald with two down.  J-Mac’s day was done after just four innings and 78 pitches.  Nate lined out to right field, and Brad Lincoln came in for some long relief.  Lincoln pitched a 1-2-3 fifth, and gave up a leadoff triple to Hill in the sixth.  Lincoln struck out the next batter, then intentionally walked Miguel Montero to set up the double play.  Sure enough, he got Ryan Roberts to ground into the 5-4-3, stranding the leadoff triple.  Pedro Alvarez came up with two outs in the seventh, and crushed a line drive homer into the right field bullpen to tie the game.  Lincoln kept the game tied through seven, and was pinch hit for by Josh Harrison to lead off the eighth.  After two quick outs, Clint Barmes lined to center, and Cutch followed with yet another two out hit.  With runners on first and second, Neil Walker hit a bloop single into right to score Barmes and give the Bucs the 2-1 lead.

Chris Resop got the first out in the bottom of the inning, but gave up a single and was replaced by Tony Watson.  T-Wats immediately got a 4-6-3 double play, keeping the one run lead into the ninth.  Juan Cruz came out to get the save for the second straight day with Joel Hanrahan out, and got three straight outs after giving up a leadoff single to secure the win for the Bucs.

Other highlights:
– Today’s win made the Pirates 3-6 on the road trip, with all of the wins coming in the last four games.
– Pedro’s home run was just his second hit of the year, both of which are homers.
– The bullpen was once again great, pitching five scoreless innings to pick up James McDonald.
– Alex Presley stole his second base of the year.
– It was an overall great win for the Bucs, their second in a row.  McDonald struggled to start, but the bullpen picked him up and the offense was good enough to pick up the W.

Star of the Game: Brad Lincoln. Reeeeeaaaally hard to pick between Lincoln and Alvarez, but Lincoln’s three shutout innings were the most important part of the game, and he picked up the win.
Goat of the Game: Jason Kubel and Ryan Roberts in the sixth inning. Both were up with less than two outs after Hill had the leadoff triple, and couldn’t get the run in.  If they could have driven him in, this would have been a completely different game.

Pirates (5-7) – Diamondbacks (7-5)

Win: Lincoln (1-0)
Loss: Hudson (1-1)
Save: Cruz (2)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs