Sunday, June 20, 2010

One More For A Streak: Pirates 5, Indians 3

The Pirates are one game away from a winning streak. Pedro stepped up with a clutch sac fly and the Pirates won a close game for a change, the second time in as many nights. Feel good, feels real good.

Brad Lincoln did just enough to get his first quality start of his major league career going six innings and yielding only three runs. It was a decent start but I didn’t really feel like he was ever much in control. I guess when you give up a yacker in the first inning that really takes any luster your start may or may not have had. Lincoln settled down and gave the Pirates a chance to win today, and really with this team that is all you can ask for.

Watching Lincoln it is becoming frustrating on how hard he makes the game for himself. When he was brought up people raved about his control and that he was a “strike thrower” and didn’t walk to many people. In his short stint so far that has been a huge problem for him. Today on the homer he gave up in the first he walked the previous batter and then hit Shin-Soo Choo who would later score on a double. Two runs that come as a direct result of a free pass given up. That has been what has hindered Lincoln through his first couple of starts. When he starts limiting those free passes he is going to be a lot more productive.

The Pirates weren’t necessarily solid the entire game, but they did what they had to do to make it interesting. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the second the Pirates got the first two men, Jaramillo and Crosby on and then it got interesting. With the pitcher spot due up JR puts Andy LaRoche to pinch hit and then bunts him. I am not sure how great of an idea a pinch hit bunter is as you are burning a batter and he is done for the rest of the game. Not saying Andy LaRoche is a .300 hitter but if you need a pinch hitter in the ninth inning I would much rather see him up there than Ryan Church.

The Pirates got second and third, one out, Tabata bounced back to the pitcher and then Jaramillo scored on a wild pitch. Walker couldn’t get Crosby in, but he, at least they scored right? I will take it. Bad inning, I thought, but they still tied the game up. In a similar situation in the eighth inning the Pirates had runners on first and second with nobody out and they bunted Lastings Milledge. Not really sure why you would do that, being that Milledge is by far the Pirates best hitter with runners in scoring position. He is hitting .400 with RISP. Sure you could hit into a DP but come on. Let the guy that is hot, hit.

If I told you before the game that John Russell would get tossed out of today’s game then you would have probably bet your house he wouldn’t. Well, he did. It was pretty unbelievable that I actually had to watch. There was a ball hit down the line, called fair (which is was, barely) but JR didn’t think so. Freaks out and gets the heave ho. Now it was talked about by a few people on Twitter, and after watching the replay I see what they were saying, but the umpires were actually coming at JR. JR wasn’t trying to instigate anything by walking towards the umpire. They were walking towards him. Not something you ever see from an umpire, and pretty unprofessional. The umpiring behind the plate today was below average at best, and adding onto that really showed me that this guy that was behind the plate wanted everyone to know that he was there.

Because of the fair ball that put runners on second and third with no outs and Brandon Donnelly did his job. Donnelly got three straight outs to preserve the lead. BD hasn’t been that great this year, but he has got the job done recently. He kept the game tied and that is all the Pirates needed.

Pedro Alvarez got the Pirates the go ahead run with a sac fly in the eighth and Bobby Crosby tacked on an insurance run to cap off a 3-for-3 day at the plate. That is another reason why the bunting of Milledge was puzzling. The Indians were able to set up a lefty to face Alvarez. Pedro looked pretty bad on the first two strikes but reliever Jensen Lewis hung a 0-2 breaking ball and Pedro hit a laser to right field for a sacrifice fly and the game winning run. Great to see.

Tabata and Alvarez are still struggling pretty bad, but like I said, you know it was going to happen. Tabata just hasn’t looked comfortable, pounding a lot of balls just straight into the ground. Hopefully the off day will give him some time to clear his head.

It is nice to see what PNC Park could be like. There was over 28,000 people at each of the games this weekend against the Indians and the place was really getting into it at the big parts of the game. When the Pirates start competing, a ticket to PNC Park is going to be fun to have. There are still plenty of struggles, but hopefully they can turn it around.

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