Sunday, June 26, 2011

Game 77 Recap - Red Sox 4, Pirates 2




The Pirates missed a chance to sweep the Red Sox in front of another record crowd at PNC Park when they fell to the visitors 4-2. The Pirates committed four errors and failed to capitalize on many opportunities that ended up biting them later in the game.

For the third straight game the Red Sox got on the board first, this time they waited until the fourth inning to do so. Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored after Josh Reddick flew out to centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. Now, this wasn’t a sacrifice fly, but rather a sort of weird play. Saltalamacchia was on second base and was tagging to go to third base. McCutchen airmails a ball it goes off Chase d’Arnaud into the stands. Not a good throw by McCutchen and it cost the Pirates.

The Pirates got on the board in both the fourth and fifth innings with runs in each inning to take their first lead of the game, much like they did the past two nights. Neil Walker scored the first run on a sacrifice fly by Ronny Cedeno and then McCutchen had a bases loaded single in the fifth to score another run. There will be more on the fifth inning later in the recap. It was one of the main reasons the Pirates lost this game.

The Red Sox tied the game in the six when Reddick hit a sacrifice fly to score Kevin Youkilis who walked to lead off the inning and then moved to third on an error. The Sox got back on it in the seventh inning and didn’t even hit a ball hard. The pen, which has been amazing all weekend, walked the first two batters and then flubbed the bunt attempt to leave the bases loaded with one out. Dustin Pedroia drove in a run on a groundout and then Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly for the fourth Sox run.

Thoughts:

James McDonald was actually better today than he has been in his last few starts. His line was not bad (6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 101 pitches) but he still struggled with consistency. He threw over 20 pitches in the first inning and it really handcuffed him the rest of the outing. In the sixth inning his walk to Youkilis came back to haunt him and put the Sox on the board. The leadoff walk to Youkilis was followed with an errant throw on a bunt to second base by McDonald to push Youk to third base with no outs. He then scored on a sac fly. Leadoff walks will kill you and that is what hurt McDonald today, although he only had two.

The bullpen wasn’t on their game today either. After McDonald exited Tim Wood walked the only batter he faced in the seventh and then Dan Moskos walked David Ortiz before botching the bunt attempt to leave the bases loaded with no outs in a tie ballgame. Chris Resop came on and got the outs he needed but not before two runs scored. Both batters that were walked scored so that was really the theme for the day for the Pirates. The staff was still good enough to give the offense a chance but way too many free passes today.

There was also something of substance that happened in the game that required warning from home plate umpire Greg Gibson. Pedroia was the one who really got everything in an uproar. He saw a few pitches that were up by the chin from James McDonald in his three at bats. I don’t think McDonald was throwing at him because it was one pitch for each of his three at bats and they looked like more control issue pitches (because JMac does have that problem this year) but Pedroia got his panties all in a bunch and was yelling and screaming in the dugout after his at bat in the fifth inning. I do get why he might be upset, so I really figured something was going to come. Happens to be that McDonald is the first batter up the next inning so an up and in pitch from Andrew Miller would do more than enough to send a message. If you feel like you have to hit him then hit him, but then would have been the time. Instead of that Miller waits a whole inning later to throw at catcher Eric Fryer. Miller didn’t throw up and in to Fryer but threw at his feet. It was deliberate and it got both benches warned. Look, I have no problem with the retaliation but if you are going to do it don’t wait around; McDonald came up the very next half inning. Take care of it then. Don’t pussy foot around it and whine about it. If you don’t take care of it then it is over, don’t wait until over an inning later to finally decide to do something.

The defense today was atrocious for both teams. A combined six errors (four for the Bucs, two for the Sox) were made in the game. The Red Sox have been pretty bad all series on the defensive side of the ball and the usually solid Bucs defense let them down and cost them runs today. Really sloppy game all the way around, but I guess you will have that sometimes.

Jose Tabata was taken off the field in the bottom of the first inning with a left quad injury. The leadoff hitter legged out a bunt single to start off the offense for the Pirates but after he hit the base he took another step and then fell to the ground like he was shot and he couldn’t get up. He had to be carted off the field and he will be evaluated on Monday. Should be a few weeks for Tabata which will be we will see Alex Presley in the lineup against the Jays. Should be interesting. Get better soon Jose.

Fryer got his first start after getting called up yesterday and looked pretty good. He had a couple of really good at bats despite going 0-for-3 and seemed to receive the ball pretty well. Sure this was only the first game so you can’t really take much either way but it will be nice to see a little more of this kid.

The fifth inning was another huge reason the Pirates couldn’t get anything done. After the first two hitters of the inning got on base d’Arnaud bunted them over with a beautiful bunt and beat it out to set up the bases loaded with no outs for a tie ball game. Andrew McCutchen shot a ball by Youkilis but Garrett Jones took too wide of a turn off third base and was thrown out. Instead of bases still loaded and no outs there were runners on first and second with one out. To be fair this wasn’t Jones’ fault. He was being waved home by third base coach Nick Leyva until the very last second when he threw up the stop sign and Jones had no chance to getting back to third base. He probably would have scored easily but I can see why you would hold him with no outs and the bases loaded, but you have to throw up the stop sign sooner. The Pirates didn’t get any more runs that inning and it hurt. They wasted a huge opportunity and it killed them in the end.

It really sucks when you give away games like this when you can sweep one of the best teams in baseball but all-in-all it was a great weekend for the Pirates. The sell out was the third straight that set a new single game attendance record and the record for a three game series with over 118,000 fans in the three game stand. Winning two-of-three from the Red Sox was a great step and the Pirates continue to amaze me. Not really sure how long this can last but I am having a damn good time watching this team. I saw Red Sox tweets over the weekend that snub their noses at the “small market team” and of course the “I can’t believe we lost to the Pirates” but maybe this team is better than everyone thought. They still get very little respect from a lot of people but it is fun baseball to watch. Another interleague series with the Jays before the Pirates get back to NL only matchups.

Off day tomorrow. Rest up people.

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