Saturday, June 18, 2011

Game 70 Recap - Indians 5, Pirates 1




The Pirates fell 5-1 to the Indians and continue to struggle in interleague play. Carlos Carrasco took a no hitter into the sixth inning and the Pirates offense sputtered again as they gave Pirates starter Paul Maholm no help in Ohio. The Pirates now fall back to the .500 mark at 35-35, which, when you think about it really could be a lot worse, but I will get into that later in the post.

The Indians got the first three runs of the game in the first, second and sixth innings on a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly to score Grady Sizemore in the first inning after Sizemore led the game off by getting hit by a pitch. Sizemore then doubled in the second inning to score Austin Kearns before Orlando Cabrera homered to left field off of Maholm in the sixth.

The Pirates showed some life in the seventh inning as Garrett Jones led off with a double to deep right field that hit of the middle of the wall. He later scored on a Lyle Overbay single to give the Pirates a little bit of life. Andrew McCutchen came up with runners on first and second with two outs but struck out to Carrasco to end the threat.

Cleveland tacked on a few insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley and a RBI single by Shin-Soo Choo to pad the lead and really put the Pirates out of reach with how the Bucs offense has been going.

Thoughts:

I typically don’t touch on the opponent starting pitcher very often but Carrasco was very impressive tonight. Coming into the game he pitched 15 innings straight of scoreless baseball before Lyle Overbay drove home Garrett Jones ended the streak at 21.1 scoreless innings in the seventh inning. At the start of the game the booth mentioned that he was sort of like Charlie Morton in that he relies on his sinker, doesn’t strike a lot of guys out and is very effective. That is exactly what he was. Carrasco got 11 ground ball outs and when there was a rare runner on base he was able to get ground balls to minimize the damage. He only gave up four hits and was in control the entire game, even taking a no hitter into the sixth inning. I am sure the Pirates poor hitting went into it but it was a really nice effort by him tonight.

Maholm had another good start but yet again got no run support. In an ideal world Paul would have been able to never give up a run ever again to make this a moot point but that just isn’t realistic. At some point he is going to need some runs (more than one or two) to work with, but it was not in the cards for him tonight. Paul went 6.1 innings tonight and gave up seven hits and four runs, all earned. He had a few nice innings after giving up a first inning run but he also threw 101 pitches in those 6.1 innings. That is a lot of pitches for that amount of inning, but it is what it is.

The Pirates have to figure something out on offense. I know part of the problem is that they still don’t have enough talent on the offensive side of the game but this is getting very hard to watch some nights. The Pirates are trotting out bench players on a daily basis and the bottom four in the order just don’t get the job done. Nothing against Xavier Paul and Josh Harrison, but they are not everyday players. Lyle Overbay has been underwhelming at best and Ronny Cedeno is doing what he does every season, which is get hot for a stretch and then go back to normal. I realize that you can’t fix this overnight but when is it time to call someone up like Alex Presley? Matt Diaz is not the answer and we have a lot of streak guys who are off more than they are on.

Interleague play has been terrible for the Pirates on a yearly basis. They are, far and away, the worst team in the majors since interleague has started and this was not the time that we needed to go against a good staff like the Indians have. It sucks but tomorrow is a huge day. Jeff Karstens in on the mound and we are going to need a good start out of him to try and stop the bleeding.

Before I leave for the night just think about this. While I just got done kind of bashing the Pirates performance over the past couple of day and being disappointed by the results of the last two nights that wasn’t the case over the past 18 years. Here we are, as fans, looking at what the Brewers and Reds and Cardinals are doing on a nightly basis while the Pirates games are going on because we are only three games (before tonight) out of first place in the NL Central. As dismal as the two games were in Cleveland you need to build a wall around them (as Pat would say) and forget about them. The Pirates are, as of right now, a .500 team. If I told you that the Pirates were .500 at the 70 game mark you would have been thrilled. Do the Pirates need to improve in many area’s? Yea, they do. Is this the end of the season because they have struggled offensively and dropped two straight in Cleveland (after winning four straight prior)? No. Keep things in perspective and be excited that we can *somewhat* scoreboard watch and still discuss things like that right now.

Back on the field in like six minutes. Get your minds right.

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