Farewell, Kevin Correia…?

In what was most likely his last start as a Pittsburgh Pirate, Kevin Correia pitched a heck of a game against the postseason-bound Braves.

The Bucs got some early runs for KC against Tommy Hanson in the 5-1 win.  Cutch grounded out to score Starling Marte, who doubled to lead off the inning, in the first.  Clint Barmes made it 2-0 with a looper into CF, and the big blows came in the fifth.  Alex Presley doubled in a run and Garrett Jones blasted a two-run shot for his 27th of the season.

Correia took the lead and didn’t look back.  He threw 6.2 solid innings, albeit against a Braves team that’s already clinched and is resting its starters.  He surrendered just one run in the fourth that Marte’s poor defense was partly responsible for.  In two years with the Bucs, Correia posted a record of 24-22 with one All-Star appearance; a very solid body of work.  For as much hate as he gets, Kevin very well may be the best starter that Neal Huntington has acquired through free agency.  He most likely won’t be back for 2013, though, as there are pitchers out there who will do the exact same thing he does but cost much less money.  Best of luck to this guy:

Anyway, Chris Resop and Bryan Morris closed out the final two innings to get the series win.  The Bucs are now set up to sweep the Braves tomorrow in what will be Chipper Jones‘ last regular season game.  On one hand, a sweep would be a great way to end the season.  But that would mean a final record of 80-82, which just hurts.

Pirates (79-82) – Braves (93-58)

Win: Correia (12-11)
Loss: Hanson (13-10)

BOX SCORE

Jeff “Lockes” down his first career win

In his tenth attempt tonight against the Braves, Jeff Locke finally picked up his first major-league win as he shut down his former organization.  He out-dueled former Bucco Paul Maholm in a close 2-1 game.

Locke threw six solid innings in what was probably his best start of his career.  Despite walking five batters, he worked out of nearly every jam and allowed just one run.  Jason Heyward drove in a run in the third, but that was all the Braves could get.

The Bucs got that run right back in the bottom of the third.  Starling Marte was credited with a triple on what should have been a double and an error, and Chase d’Arnaud picked up an RBI-groundout to tie the game.  Marte supplied the only other run of the game when he demolished a home run to CF as he gave the Pirates the 2-1 lead.  Maholm went seven and struck out eight, but it just wasn’t good enough.  He sure knows what it’s like to pitch well and not get any run support at PNC Park, huh?

Jeff Karstens and Tony Watson each pitched an inning to get to the ninth.  Instead of sending Joel Hanrahan out for the third straight day, Clint Hurdle turned to Jared Hughes for the save.  Despite an error, Hughes pitched a nice inning and picked up his second save of the year.

At face value, this was a satisfying win.  Great effort by the starter and enough offense to get a win.  But considering the circumstances, it just doesn’t feel good.

With the loss, the Braves were eliminated from the NL East and will have to settle for a wildcard spot.  The Nationals are the 2012 NL East champions.

Pirates (78-82) – Braves (93-67)

Win: Locke (1-3)
Loss: Maholm (13-11)
Save: Hughes (2)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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

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