It was another disappointing and frustrating game for the Bucs today. They closed out their series in San Diego (and stretch of 20 games in 20 days) with a 4-2 loss to Andrew Werner, who made his ML debut.
James McDonald, who seemed to be on track to getting back to his first half-self after his start in St. Louis, took the hill and was less than impressive. After Werner got two rolled-over groundouts and a strikeout in the first, J-Mac came out and walked the bases loaded. Carlos Quentin doubled in two, and another run scored on a sac-fly to make it 3-0 just like that. Quentin was actually thrown out at third, which was a stupid move. But hey, it’s worth a shot, considering how poorly the Pirates have prevented stolen bases this year.
Garrett Jones continued his tear in August with a leadoff double in the second. It looked like the Bucs might get something going against this kid making his debut, but no. Jones moved to third on a groundout, and Pedro drew a walk to put runners on the corners. After the five-pitch walk, Michael McKenry hacked at the first pitch, and grounded into an inning-ending double play. Pedro, on his way to a 1-2 day with two walks, drove in the first run for the Pirates in the fourth, but Jones made one of his signature baserunning mistakes by making the last out at third. Still, the Bucs were on the board.
McDonald gave up one more run in the fifth, and he was done after that. He only gave up five hits, but also walked five. It was one of those typical J-Mac starts where he struggles with his command early, and once he settles down, it’s just too late. It’s hard to even explain how disappointing this is. The Pirates can not and will not make the playoffs if McDonald pitches like this every fifth day.
The good news is that Jared Hughes and Chris Resop did great jobs to keep the game close with one and two perfect innings respectively. Gee, who knew that there were guys in the bullpen that are actually serviceable and can get guys out?
The bad news is that San Diego’s bullpen also pitched three perfect innings, and Tom Layne closed out the game to earn his first save. The Pirates got their second run when Gaby Sanchez led off the seventh with his first home run as a Bucco, but it was all for naught.
If you’re not worried about this team yet, you should be. The simple fact is that something needs to change. This just isn’t the same team we saw in June and July. Is it Cutch? He’s definitely part of it. Is it Hurdle misusing his bullpen and bench in pivotal spots in the game? That’s definitely part of it. Is it the fact that the best 25 players aren’t on the roster, especially bullpen arms? That’s another part of it.
The Pirates are now a half game back of a wild card spot. It’s time to get something going.
Pirates (67-57) – Padres (56-70)
Win: Werner (1-0)
Loss: McDonald (11-6)