Series split in Philly

Despite some shaky work by the bullpen, the Pirates were able to hang on this afternoon to split the four game series at Citizens Bank Park.  A five-run first inning was all that was needed to out-score the Phillies.

After Garrett Jones knocked in a run to make it 1-0 in the first, Casey McGehee clobbered a three-run bomb to put up an early four-spot.  Pedro Alvarez then took Kyle Kendrick deep for his 14th home run (leading all third basemen), and A.J. Burnett had a 5-0 lead before even throwing a pitch.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Kendrick was dominant after the first, only giving up one hit from second-sixth innings.  Burnett turned in another impressive start, but the Phillies started to chip into the lead.  Former Bucco Erik Kratz hit a two-run home run in the second, and Placido Polanco drove in a run on a groundball that was too slow to be a double play.  A.J. started the seventh, and struck out the first two batters before walking Jimmy Rollins.  He was yanked for Juan Cruz who walked the first batter he faced on four pitches.  Shane Victorino flew out to end the threat, and the 5-3 lead was still in tact.

GI Jones hit a towering fly ball in the top of the eighth that hit something above the wall, and bounced back on to the field.  After review, it was ruled a double and he had to stay at second.  The Bucs couldn’t take advantage though, stranding Jones at second.

The bottom of the eighth was a doozy.  Heart Attack City for Pirates fans.  Hunter Pence leads off against Jason Grilli and takes him deep to make it 5-4.  Grilli plunked the next guy, and then got Ty Wigginton, another former Bucco great, to strike out.  With Jim Thome, looming in the on-deck circle, Grilli served up a single and the Phillies had runners on first and second.  Thome took a huge cut the first pitch he saw – a 95 MPH fastball – and absolutely crushed it down the right field line.  Just foul.  He fouled off another fastball, and then whiffed on a third one to strike out.  But the inning was still far from over, with the NL’s leading hitter coming up next.  Carlos Ruiz, who got the day off, pinch hit.  Down 0-2, Ruiz fisted a popup in foul territory, and Casey McGehee made a running catch, diving two rows deep in to the stands to get out of the inning.

The Phillies got a runner to third in the ninth, but Joel Hanrahan got a flyout to end the game and earn the save.  A.J. got his eighth straight win, and the offense put up five runs without any help from Cutch, who went 0-5.

Pirates (40-35) – Phillies (36-42)

Win: Burnett (9-2)
Loss: Kendrick (2-8)
Save: Hanrahan (20)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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Sloppy game at the Bank

If you missed tonight’s game against the Phillies, consider yourself lucky.  It was probably the worst game of 2012, and was reminiscent of the horrible 2010 season.  Jeff Karstens made his return to the team and made his first start since April 17, but it wasn’t a great welcome back.

Neil Walker had a chance to get the Pirates on the board in the first with two on and two outs, but grounded out.  Things were ugly for Karstens (no pun intended) from the start.  Jimmy Rollins got to third after doubling and being sacrificed over, and scored on a bloop single by Hunter Pence, that looked to be catchable by Jose Tabata.  As Rollins slid into home, Rod Barajas‘ leg got twisted around, and he left the game the next inning.  The next play was by far one of the ugliest plays you’ll ever see in a professional baseball game.  Carlos Ruiz singled to RF, and the throw went into third base.  Jose’s throw either should have been cut off or Pedro should have come out to block it, but instead it short-hoped and flew past third.  Pedro fired to second base, and his throw sailed into right, allowing Ruiz to get all the way to third.  Shane Victorino had an RBI single, and so did Placido Polanco.  Tabata’s throw home to try to cut down Victorino flew past Barajas, and he was charged with his second error of the inning.

Jose redeemed himself slightly with a solo shot in the third, and Karstens seemed to settle down.  It wouldn’t stay that way, though, and Polanco made it 5-1 with another RBI single.  Clint Barmes drove in Walker after a leadoff double to make it 5-2 in the fourth, and it looked like the Bucs still had a chance to come back – especially against the struggling Joe Blanton.  Rollins quickly put an end to any thought of a comeback with a two-run upper-decker, and the Phillies went up 7-2.

Andrew McCutchen drove in a run, but it was pretty irrelevant.  Karstens was at least able to get through the sixth to save the bullpen.  Doug Slaten was the first reliever out, and after pitching a scoreless seventh, walked in a run in the eighth.  With the bases still loaded and no outs, he was somehow able to strike out the next three guys and work out of the inning with one run given up.  Jared Hughes pitched a 1-2-3 mop-up inning, which was nice to see.

Overall a pretty ugly game, but there’s always tomorrow.  And as Pirates blogger RumBunter points out, these games don’t happen as often as they used to.

Anyway, the Reds won, and same with the Cardinals (who came back from a 6-2 deficit.)  The Pirates are now two back of first, tied for second, and in a four-way tie for the second wildcard spot.  Gotta bounce back tomorrow.

Pirates (38-34) – Phillies (35-40)

Win: Blanton (7-6)
Loss: Karstens (0-2)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Rockies

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies

April 24th, 2012 7:05 pm
April 25th, 2012 12:35 pm
April 25th, 2012 TBD


PNC Park

Probable Pitchers
Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (1-2, 2.55 ERA)
James McDonald (0-1, 3.45 ERA) vs. Juan Nicasio (1-0, 6.19 ERA)
Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.60 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 4.80 ERA)

Series Notes
The Rockies have started the year with a record of 8-7, and sit in 2nd place in the NL West… Monday’s starter, 49 year old Jamie Moyer, became the oldest player to appear in a Major League game since 1980… Moyer now has 268 lifetime victories… Tuesday’s starter, Juan Nicasio, went 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six road starts last season… Wednesday’s starter, Jhoulys Chacin, entered this season with a career ERA of 3.32, the lowest in Rockies franchise history for a pitcher with at least 50 career starts… Before winning yesterday’s game, the Rockies had lost 20 consecutive Sunday games, a major league record… Colorado manager Jim Tracy returns to Pittsburgh, where he managed for two seasons and had a record of 135-189… Clint Hurdle faces the Rockies after managing in Colorado from 2002-2009… There are no promotions lined up for this series… Monday’s game is postponed, and a doubleheader will be played on Wednesday.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

April 20th, 2012 7:05 pm
April 21st, 2012 7:05 pm
April 22nd, 2012 1:35 pm


PNC Park

Probable Pitchers
Charlie Morton (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.50 ERA)
Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (2-0, 0.64 ERA)
Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA)

Series Notes
St. Louis is coming off the franchise’s 11th World Series title, which was the second this decade… The Cardinals are going through their first season without slugger Albert Pujols, but seem to be unaffected, as they have gone 9-4 thus far, good for first in the NL Central… 3B David Freese became the first player ever to collect 50 total bases in the postseason… The Cards grounded into 169 double plays in 2011, which set a National League record… Lance Berkman was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a left calf injury… Skip Schumaker will be activated off the DL, after missing time with a strained right oblique… Chris Carpenter could possibly return in late May, as he is currently missing time with a shoulder injury… In his career vs. the Pirates, Jake Westbrook is 0-3 with a 5.46 ERA… Andrew McCutchen is 8 for 22 lifetime off of Kyle Lohse… Erik Bedard has started the year 0-3, despite having a solid ERA of 2.65… This weekend’s promotions are as follows: Free Shirt Friday on Friday, Umbrella Night on Saturday, and Recycled Cap/Kids Day/Buc Day on Sunday.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

April 10th, 2012 4:10 pm
April 11th, 2012 10:10 pm
April 12th, 2012 10:10 pm

Dodger Stadium

Probable Pitchers
Kevin Correia (0-0, -.–) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 0.00)
Erik Bedard (0-1, 1.29) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-0, 0.00)
Jeff Karstens (0-0, 1.50) vs. Chris Capuano (0-0, 7.71)

Series Notes
The Pirates took the series from the Phillies and have started the season with a record of 2-1… The Dodgers took three of four from the Padres and sit 0.5 games out of first in the NL West… Last year’s NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp is off to a hot start, hitting .412 (7 for 17) with 2 HR and 8 RBI… The Pirates face Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night, who was the recipient of the 2011 NL Cy Young Award… Kershaw was hit with the stomach flu last week, but should be ready to face the Pirates… Kershaw is the eighth pitcher in Dodgers history to win the award… The Dodgers also won 3 Gold Gloves last season, with Kemp, Kershaw, and Andre Ethier taking home the hardware… A group led by Magic Johnson recently bought the Dodgers for $2.15 billion

Go Bucs