The bats fell asleep in C-Town tonight, getting shut out for the sixth time this year. Coming off being swept by the Orioles, it was clear that James McDonald would need to step up with a big start to stop the losing skid. J-Mac did his part, but the offense just couldn’t pick up the slack.
Carlos Sanatana drove in the only run off of McDonald in the third on a soft ground ball that snuck past third base for a double. In the eighth, Jason Grilli was able to strike out two batters, but also walked two. Juan Cruz came out to get the last out of the inning, which was a questionable move by Clint Hurdle. Michael Brantley singled to center, putting the Indians up 2-0 and extending his hit streak to 22 games.
Tribe starter Justin Masterson pitched 7 great innings, but the Pirates had their share of chance to put some runs on the board. Garrett Jones stranded a runner on second in the first inning, and Jose Tabata struck out with the bases loaded in the fourth. Neil Walker led off the sixth with a double, and got to third on a groundout. All Jones had to do was get the ball to the outfield or past the drawn-in infielders, but instead popped out. Casey McGehee couldn’t drive him in, and the leadoff double was wasted. Alex Presley left two runners on in the seventh, and Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez closed out the game for the Indians.
McDonald’s 6 innings of 3-hit ball weren’t enough, which is a shame. His ERA is now 2.32, still one of the best in the game. If there was one highlight of the game for the Bucs it was Alex Presley making a nice running catch on Jack Hannahan, and then firing home to get Johnny Damon trying to tag from third.
Game two of the “rivalry series” is tomorrow (today) at 4:05. We’ll be there, and so will a lot of other Bucco fans, and possibly other bloggers. A.J. Burnett will try to stop the losing streak, and will face Ubaldo Jimenez.
Pirates (32-31) – Indians (33-30)
Win: Masterson (3-6)
Loss: McDonald (5-3)
Save: Perez (21)