Finally a game where you can honestly say that the Pirates played a pretty good ballgame the whole way through and the offense got the job done for maybe the first time all season. The Pirates pounded out 13 hits tonight and it was only the second time that the Pirates had a game with double digit hits.
The Pirates actually looked like they were going to go through the same routine that they have for most of the last three games. They scored a run in the first inning with three straight two out hits but were answered with three runs in the bottom of the first inning which seemed like an insurmountable deficit with how the offense has been performing.
Well the Pirates were able to tie the game up with a Neil Walker single that scored Andrew McCutchen and then a Garrett Jones double to score Walker in the third inning. OK, this was a little weird. Jones then came up and mashed a ball into the drink in right field to give the Pirates the lead in the sixth inning. Extra base hits, yay.
On came Jason Grilli who has pitched pretty well this year but with one out he gave up a solo shot to John McDonald who has hit like 20 career home runs and I know most of us thought “here we go again.” Luckily we were all wrong. With one out in the top of the ninth inning Alex Presley reached on an infield single followed by a pinch hit single by Casey McGehee to set up the dramatics. Andrew McCutchen came up and had a great at bat and got his fourth hit of the night and drove home Presley for the winner. Perfect.
The Pirates had 13 hits but the middle of the order was just ballin tonight. The 3-4-5 hitters, which were McCutchen, Walker and Jones, combined to go 10-for-14 with four runs scored and five RBI. Really spectacular night from all of them led by McCutchen with a 4-for-5 day including the game winner.
What was maybe more spectacular is that the Pirates won this game with Jeff Karstens only going one inning as he left the game with a bad right shoulder. No idea how bad it is but it can’t be good. The bullpen was short already as Chris Resop wasn’t available and Joel Hanrahan was out with the flu but they were able to gut it out for the win. Jared Hughes went 2.2 innings and gave up only one run on three hits, Tony Watson went a perfect 2.1 innings and Even Meek and Juan Cruz each worked perfect innings as well. Grilli gave up the bomb to tie the game but he looked pretty good sans the one pitch. Really nice job by the bullpen.
It wasn’t all good tonight as the moves that Clint Hurdle made was pretty bad. In the seventh inning Jose Tabata led off the inning with a walk and then he proceeded to have Alex Presley try to sacrifice bunt which he popped up and then Tabata was thrown out trying to steal. In the eighth inning the Pirate had runners on first and second with no outs against left handed reliever Joe Paterson and Hurdle let Jones and Pedro Alvarez both bat against him. Both are notoriously bad against lefties and with Casey McGehee on the bench it just was a really strange move since Hurdle is really big on the matchups.
Really good the Pirates got the win with Ian Kennedy on the mound. Dude was really good last year and while I don’t subscribe to pitchers win as a good stat he did win 21 games last season and the Pirates were able to rough him up for four runs on eight hits in six innings of work. Not really sure if this means the offense is waking up because a large chunk of the offense came from only three players but it is at least something.
The win also gives the Pirates a chance to salvage this road trip. If they can snag a win tomorrow they will go back to Pittsburgh with a 5-7 record which is pretty good considering how the Dodgers and Giants series went. It isn’t going to be easy tomorrow but a win would take the sting out of what has been a pretty bad West coast swing.