I would be remised if I didn’t talk about Paul Maholm tonight as he was nothing less than magnificent on the mound for the six innings he was in. He threw one hit ball and struck out four before being yanked with only 94 pitches. It was a lot for six innings and he probably could have went back out for another inning, but I don’t get paid to make those decisions.
Maholm’s bff Zach Duke was also good in his start for the Diamondbacks. He went seven innings and gave up only one run with nine hits. He threw 95 pitches, but the Diamondbacks offense couldn’t get anything done off of Maholm until Duke was well out of the game. Whatever. There was a lot of Duke hate online during the game and I have no reason why. Sure he didn’t stick up for a teammate against the Brewers but in his tenure with the team he never caused a single problem and gave us some pretty good years. It was nice to see him do well (albeit against the Pirates this time) and I hope he continues to pitch well.
Back to the win. It was a wild one, and dare I say this team is learning how to win and it is really fun to watch. The offense was doing alright getting multiple hits in a handful of innings but just couldn’t scratch more than one run across the board.
The Diamondbacks tied the game up in the top of the eighth inning when Steve Drew singled home Kelly Johnson who drew a leadoff walk off of Jose Veras. Veras wasn’t very good tonight and he is more of a hot/cold guy so that didn’t really surprise me, but it sucks that the Pirates couldn’t get the win for Maholm.
The game went to extra’s and then the Diamondbacks struck again when Drew again singled home Johnson to give them a 2-1 lead. At that point, after the inning ended, I went and opened up word and typed out two paragraphs. Xavier Paul struck out to open the inning and then Andrew McCutchen walked up to the plate. Double to centerfield. Neil Walker then stepped up and clutched up for his 40th RBI to drive home McCutchen. Needless to say I stopped, for the second night.
The Pirates were in it bad to start the 11th inning when Dan McCutchen came in to pitch. Xavier Nady opened up with a double followed by a Henry Blanco single to put runners on the corner with nobody out. McCutchen really balled up and got a strikeout and a double play ball to get out of the inning with nothing. This work by McCutchen was just as important, if not more so, than the home run that Andrew hit later.
DCutch then pitched a clean 12th inning and Andrew McCutchen ended it putting a two strike pitch just inside the left field foul pole for the win.
The Bucs are back to .500 (30-30) this late in the season since 2005 when they were also 30-30 before going on a huge slide and as far as 1997 when the team was around .500 about 120 games into the season. It is a small step, but this is fun.
Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen combined to go 7-for-11 from the plate. I hope that this is where we see Tabata come off the snide as he is now hitting .253 after a 4-for-6 night and pushed his OPS to .712. McCutchen has just been on fire lately. He is now hitting .282 and he scored two runs and knocked in two for his 34th RBI and his OPS is at a career high .865. He is really doing some unreal stuff right now and might be one of the hottest hitters in baseball as he supports a seven game hitting streak where he is hitting .517 during those seven games. Unreal stuff, those two get going and this offense is going to get real good, real fast.
Another guy we need to talk about is Tony Watson. Kid gets called up from Indy yesterday and makes his major league debut tonight. Not only was this his debut but he was thrown into a real jam in the eighth inning after Veras left two runners on and only one out. What does Watson do? Back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat. Big ups to Tony for a great first impression. Going to be nice if he can step up and give the Pirates two solid lefties out of the pen.
What a great way to end the game and a thrilling past week or so of baseball. Get back after it tomorrow looking for the sweep of what was the first place team in the NL West. Baseball is exciting in Pittsburgh once again.
Kristy continues to do great work and she got the post game up with Paul Maholm and Tony Watson: