Riding the longball to a series win

Despite 0-for’s from both Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker today, the Bucs were able to out-slug the Rockies to bail out James McDonald and take the series in Denver.

McDonald had a pretty rough outing.  The score was 3-0 Colorado before he could even record an out, thanks to home runs by Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez.  Pedro Alvarez smacked a solo shot in the second to get a run back, but the Rockies added two more to make it 5-1.

But of course, no lead is safe at Coors Field, and the Bucs worked some two-out magic in the third.  Garrett Jones hit a three-run bomb to get within a run, and Clint Barmes drove in two more after an error, HPB, and single.  Even with the 6-4 lead, J-Mac just couldn’t settle in, and should have been taken out.  With the day off tomorrow (today), Hurdle shouldn’t have hesitated to go to the bullpen.  But alas, he wanted McDonald to qualify for the all-important win, and he pitched through the fifth.  The Rockies added a run on an Andrew Brown RBI-single, but that would be it for them.

The Bucs’ offense ensured J-Mac would get a win when Casey McGehee hit a two-run bomb and Rod Barajas hit a solo shot.  Brad Lincoln pitched two scoreless innings, and Jason Grilli came in for the eighth.  He allowed two baserunners, only recording one out, so Tony Watson had to come in for the last two.  He got CarGo to ground-out softly and got a big K to end the inning.  Joel Hanrahan pitched an unreal ninth to slam the door as the Bucs won 9-6.

It’s a pretty good sign when the offense can put up 9 runs without ANY production from Cutch or Walker.  With the 0-for, Neil’s 17 game hitting streak came to an end.  The Reds lost later on in the day, so the Bucs and Reds are tied for first in the division.

Pirates (51-40) – Rockies (35-56)

Win: McDonald (10-3)
Loss: Reynolds (3-1)
Save: Hanrahan (26)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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Bucs bounce back to win game #50

After last night’s disappointing loss to the Rockies, Erik Bedard helped the Pirates rebound with a solid start.  The offense did their part, and despite a shaky bottom of the ninth, the Jolly Roger was raised.

The Bucs went down on just six pitches in the first.  Bedard loaded the bases in the first and was having some control issues, but got out of the jam.  Colorado struck first in the third inning when Alex Presley dropped the would-have-been third out, and the Rockies went up 1-0.  Cutch led off the fourth and tied the game up with an absolute bomb.  It landed 442 feet from home plate, and was right down the LF line.  The only concern was whether it would stay fair.

Bedard walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the fourth and gave up an RBI-triple; his only earned run on the night.  He struck out the next two batters and got a flyout to avoid giving up any more runs.  The Pirates’ big break came in the fifth when Christian Friedrich walked the first two guys.  Bedard laid down a sac-bunt, and Presley drove in a run on a groundout.  Drew Sutton came up with a clutch RBI-single, making it 3-2.  Cutch singled, and Sutton scored on a wild pitch.  Casey McGehee picked up another two-out RBI, putting the Bucs up 5-2.

Bedard got into some hot water in the seventh when he gave up a two-out single, followed by a walk.  He really should have been taken out then, but Hurdle left him in to face Carlos  Gonzalez.  He walked CarGo, which ended his night after 6.2 innings.  Jared Hughes escaped the bases-loaded jam by getting a flyout.  Michael McKenry added some insurance in the eighth with an opposite-field double.

Chris Resop pitched a scoreless inning, setting up Juan Cruz for the ninth.  He had absolutely no control, giving up two walks.  With the save situation now in place, Hurdle brought in Joel Hanrahan to clean up the mess.  Of course, he walked the first batter to load the bases, but got a strikeout to end the game.

Erik picked up his first win since June 8th, thanks to some slick defense by Barmes and Walker up the middle.  Really fun game to watch, even though it was over three hours.  J-Mac goes tomorrow at 3:40 EST.

Pirates (50-40) – Rockies (35-55)

Win: Bedard (5-10)
Loss: Friedrich (5-7)
Save: Hanrahan (25)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Pedro’s blast gets spoiled

If you didn’t stay up through last night’s rain delay, you missed one of the most unreal home runs in the last decade, but also missed an anti-climatic and heart-breaking ending.

Both pitchers were pretty dominant through four innings.  Jeff Karstens and Jeff Francis both allowed a few baserunners, but the game was still scoreless.  The Bucs got on the board first in the top of the fifth.  With runners on the corners, Karstens chopped a bouncer over the first baseman’s head to drive in a run.

The bottom of the fifth, however, was pretty ugly.  A leadoff walk followed by back-to-back singles tied the game, and put runners on the corners.  Eric Young doubled to deep RF, and Josh Harrison took an absolutely horrible route to the ball, which was catchable on the warning track.  That drove in two more, and the Rockies tacked on another run to make it 4-1.  Karstens settled down after that, but the damage was done.  He was done after seven innings, and Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth to get it to the ninth.

Rafael Betancourt came out to get the save for Colorado, and Andrew McCutchen led off with a base knock.  Neil Walker singled two batters later, bringing up Pedro Alvarez as the tying run.  Meanwhile, the rain had been coming down at Coors Field for some time now, and the game was finally delayed as Pedro stepped in to the box.  It was well after midnight when the 52 minute rain delay was over, and the game was resumed.  Most of the crowd had left by then, but there was a small group of Pirates fans behind the dugout and was pretty vocal.  Lefty Rex Brothers was now in for the Rockies, and the first pitch he threw to Pedro was taken deep to LF for a game-tying three-run jack.  Absolutely unreal.  Awesome, awesome moment.

Rod Barajas followed with a single, but Clint Barmes grounded into an inning-ending double play to take it to the bottom of the ninth.  Jason Grilli was tasked with getting the game to extra innings, but couldn’t get the job done.  Dexter Fowler came up with runners on the corners and one out, and it was strange that he wasn’t intentionally walked.  The runner on third wasn’t forced, so the Pirates must have been hoping for a double play ball, but Fowler is extremely hard to double-up.  Just seems like walking Fowler to get to Marco Scutaro would have been a much better option.  Regardless, they pitched to Fowler, who hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to end the game.

Cincinnati lost, so there’s no change in the standings.

Pirates (49-40) – Rockies (35-54)

Win: Brothers (5-2)
Loss: Grilli (1-3)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates vs. Rockies Game #2 4/25/12

The second part of the twin bill was a battle between starters Charlie Morton and Jhoulys Chacin, with the winner taking the series.

Through 5 1/2 innings, this looked like another low scoring game.  Both pitchers, especially Morton, were scattering hits and pitching well.  But in the bottom of the fifth, the Buccos finally broke out the bats.  Alex Presley got it all started with a one out double, followed by a Nate McLouth double that left fielder Carlos Gonzalez lost in the sun.  Andrew McCutchen followed with a fly ball in almost the exact same spot, and Gonzalez yet again lost it in the sun to make it 2-0 Pirates.  The offensive outburst continued when Garrett Jones launched a two run bomb into right center, the first non-solo homer of the year for the Pirates.  Pedro Alvarez stayed hot, going back to back with Jones off the right field foul pole for his second home run of the day. (VIDEO)  Not only did the Pirates tie their season high with 5 runs in a game, but they set a new season high with 5 runs in one inning.  Morton continued to deal his “Electric Stuff” all game, pitching 6 2/3 shutout ball until he gave up a solo homer to Ramon Hernandez.  Morton’s day was done after 7, and Brad Lincoln pitched hitless eighth and ninth innings, securing the 5-1 Pirates win.

Other highlights:
– Morton’s final line was  7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 BB.
– In addition to his home run, Pedro also had an opposite field double off of a lefty which just missed getting over the wall.
– Lincoln looked unhittable out of the pen, with his velocity increasing to 94-95 MPH.

Star of the Game: Charlie Morton.  The pitching staff continues to deal, and Morton was no different.  His breaking ball was very good today, as well as his ground ball inducing sinker.  The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going off of him.
Goat of the Game: Carlos Gonzalez.  The two fly balls that he misplayed were what sparked the huge 5 run inning, and both were pretty ugly to watch.  The sun in left field can be pretty brutal, especially in the late afternoon, but Gonzalez wasn’t even wearing the  right sunglasses.  The Bucs took advantage of the misplays, and kept the momentum rolling.

Pirates (8-10) – Rockies (9-9)

Win: Morton (1-1)
Loss: Chacin (0-2)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates vs. Rockies Game #1 4/25/12

As Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks once said, “Let’s play two!”  The Bucs and Rocks squared off in a double header today, with the first game starting at 12:30.  James McDonald started for the Pirates, along with 4 other Mc’s, and Juan Nicasio started for the Rockies.  Unfortunately, we both missed the first 8 innings, but were able to catch the last inning.  It was a pretty uneventful game, so there isn’t really much to recap anyway.

McDonald had a no hitter through 6 innings, and of course the Pirates lineup couldn’t get him any runs.  After walking Carlos Gonzalez to lead off the seventh, J-Mac gave up an infield hit to Troy Tulowitzki, breaking up the no hitter.  Both runners advanced on what was ruled a wild pitch, but it was really a passed ball by Michael McKenry.  Jason Giambi flew out to center, scoring Gonzalez and making it 1-0.  McDonald struck out the next two batters to keep the defect at one.  The Bucs wasted no time in striking back, with Pedro Alvarez hitting a line drive home run into right centerfield.

McDonald’s day was done after seven, and Chris Resop replaced him.  After getting one out, Resop hit a batter and gave up a single.  Tony Watson replaced Resop, and gave up a sac fly to Tyler Colvin to make it 2-1.  The offense couldn’t get anything else going after Pedro’s homer, and that was the game.

Other highlights:
– All 9 starters collected a hit each.
Alex Presley and Clint Barmes were both caught stealing.
– McDonald’s final line was 7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.

Star of the Game: James McDonald.  He pitched a heck of a game, with a no hitter through 6 innings.  He did everything he could to put the Pirates in a position to win, but the offense couldn’t come through.  Luckily he wasn’t tagged with the loss.
Goat of the Game: The Pirates offense.  McDonald went 7 innings and gave up 1 run.  That should be enough to win a game, but the offense couldn’t get anything going once again.

Pirates (7-10) – Rockies (9-8)

Win: Matt Reynolds (2-0)
Loss: Resop (0-2)
Save: Rafael Betancourt (6)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs