Last visit to Houston for a while

The Bucs stopped some of the bleeding today with an impressive 8-1 win over the Astros. They mashed out 18 hits in the last NL matchup between the two teams, and came one win closer to reached that elusive 82nd.

It was a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings.  A.J. Burnett did his thing, going eight innings while giving up just four hits.  He struck out 11 and made just one mistake – a solo homer to Scott Moore that would be the only run the Astros could get.  A.J. earned his first win since the “STFD game” on August 16th, and improved his record to 16-8.

It took four innings to break through against Jordan Lyles, but once they got to him in the fifth, the Bucs went off.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, and Gaby Sanchez got plunked to drive in the first run of the game.  Jose Tabata walked to plate another run, and Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas both singled in runs to make it 4-0.  The Pirates left the bases loaded in the fifth, but they weren’t done scoring.  Cutch doubled in Josh Harrison, who collected four hits, to put the Bucs up 5-0.  Pedro, Jose, and A.J. each picked up RBIs in the eighth to really put the game out of reach.  A.J. cruised with the big lead, and after his day was done, Chad Qualls pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the win.

It’ll be weird not seeing the Astros anymore, or at least not as often.  It’s nice to leave Houston with a big win.  Just ten more games left in the season, and although the playoffs are pretty much out of the picture, a winning season is still obtainable.  The Pirates will have to go 7-3 in their remaining games.  Gotta stay hopeful.

Pirates (75-77) – Astros (50-103)

Win: Burnett (16-8)
Loss: Lyles (4-12)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Another day, another loss

Despite a productive start from Kevin Correia, the Pirates couldn’t get anything going on offense and dropped yet another game.

The Astros took an early 1-0 lead in the first (surprising, huh?) but the Bucs got it right back.  Gaby Sanchez tied the game with a leadoff homer in the second, and it stayed that way for a while.  Correia settled in for the next five innings, and Dallas Keuchel cruised.

That all ended in the seventh when KC gave up a leadoff single that dropped in between three defenders.  Clint Barmes booted an easy double-play ball, and the inevitable happened next.  Jason Castro came to the plate with the intention of bunting, but after the count got to 2-1, he was swinging away.  He took Correia deep to RF for a three-run bomb, and that was all she wrote.  A six-inning-nine-strikeout performance by Correia was spoiled.  Keuchel held the Bucs to four hits in seven innings, and the back of the bullpen closed it out, with Wilton Lopez getting the save.

Pitt won big.  Go Steelers.

Pirates (74-77) – Astros (50-102)

Win: Keuchel (3-7)
Loss: Correia (11-10)
Save: Lopez

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Yet another embarrassing loss

Well, the free-fall continued tonight in Houston as the Bucs lost 7-1.  It was literally all Astros, or Colt .45s as they were tonight, and just an overall ugly game.

Houston jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first when Jed Lowrie took Jeff Locke deep into the Crawford Boxes.  Aaaand that’s about it.  Houston starter Edgar Gonzalez left the game in the second inning with some sort of injury, but the bullpen took over and shut the Bucs down.  The Astros tacked on four more runs, and the only run the Pirates could get came in the eighth when Garrett Jones hit a solo-shot.

Pirates (74-76) – Astros (49-102)

Win: Fernando Rodriguez (2-10)
Loss: Locke (0-2)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Unlikely heroes

Some of the most criticized Pirates came up big in the 6-3 win tonight.  Kevin Correia pitched a beauty, while Alex Presley and Clint Barmes sparked the offense.  The win meant a series-win against the Astros, and one win closer to a winning season.

Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez each knocked in a run in the first against Fernando Abad, who is usually used out of the bullpen.  Rod Barajas chugged home when Alex Presley spanked a triple in the second, and Brock Holt drove in AP for his second RBI of the game.  The sixth run came in when Barmes laid down a perfect suicide-squeeze.  Clint finished the game 1-2 with two walks and a run batted in while hitting in the second spot of the lineup – a late change that worked out well.

Correia did his thing, giving up just one run and four hits over six innings of work.  Jared Hughes pitched two scoreless innings and Jason Grilli closed out the ninth (although he did give up a two-run homer.)

The Bucs’ 72nd win of the year not only brings them to within ten games of a .500 season, but matches their win total from 2011.  That means that any win from here on out will be an improvement from last season.  That’s all you can ask for from a team like the Bucs: just improve on the previous season.  The Cubs come into town for a big series that could give the Pirates some momentum as they go into Cincinnati next week.

Pirates (72-64) – Astros (42-95)

Win: Correia (10-8)
Loss: Abad (0-3)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Dusting off the Jolly Roger

The Bucs played an all-around impressive game tonight to snap their four-game losing streak, albeit to the lowly Astros.  After rain delayed the start of the game by 75 minutes, the Pirates came out ready to play.

Wandy Rodriguez gave up a leadoff single in the first, and next came the obligatory stolen base.  With a runner on second and no outs, Wandy got two huge strikeouts to get out of the inning unscathed with a zero on the board.  Cutch roped an RBI-double to LF in the bottom half to make it 1-0 early.  As Travis Snider was rounding second, he started to limp.  Although he came around to score, he left the game with a hamstring injury, which he’s battled earlier this year.  Not much is known about his condition right now.

Skipping ahead to the third inning, the first two men reached for the Pirates.  Brock Holt picked up his second of four hits, and Jose Tabata walked.  Cutch singled in Holt, which brought up Garrett Jones.  He hit a sharp groundball to short, which was booted.  Somehow, it was ruled a single.  Pretty obvious that this was an error, but the home field advantage scoring gave GI the knock.  That made it 3-0, and Wandy started to cruise.  He went on to throw seven shutout innings while striking out seven and giving up just four hits. Once again, the Astros are the worst team in the league, but Wandy looked very impressive.

With the already small crowd getting rained on, the fans that stuck around for the game needed something to entertain themselves.  They chose to start “wooing” very loudly sometime around the third inning.  Some thought this was incredibly annoying while some thought it was the funniest thing ever.  Either way, it seemed to work as the Pirates were playing well and the fans were into the game until the final out.

In the fifth, we saw why the 2012 Astros have been so horribly bad.  Cutch drove in his third run of the game, which chased starter Jordan Lyles from the game.  After a walk and wild pitch put runners on second and third with two outs, Pedro Alvarez popped up a ball a few feet on the shortstop side of second base.  The shortstop and second baseman, both looking up at the ball, inched closer to each other before 2B Tyler Greene had the ball pop out of his glove as the two bumped into each other.  That allowed both runners to score, and the Bucs took a 6-0 lead.  DisAstros.

Chris Resop came in for 0.2 of an inning and gave up one run, and was charged with one more after Tony Watson came in.  With a score of 6-2, Joel Hanrahan came in to close it out.  He got the final out, and the losing streak finally came to an end.

Definitely a great win, but this is what the Pirates should do to teams like the Astros.  Wandy was dominant and the offense stepped up.  That’s awesome.  Now just keep it rolling and make a big push.  Here are the updated wild card standings.  The Dodgers are still in progress right now.

The win also clinched a winning season at PNC Park for the Bucs, just their second in the history of the stadium (2006.)

Pirates (71-64) – Astros (42-94)

Win: Rodriguez (10-13)
Loss: Lyles (3-11)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs