Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pirates Game 2 Recap - Pirates 2, Phillies 1 (10 innings)

The Pirates picked up the first win of the 2012 season in dramatic walk off win against the Phillies. Alex Presley beat out an infield single with two outs and runners on the corners in the 10th inning to salvage a good pitching performance and let the city boast after a Philadelphia sweep on the day.

Man, no idea what to even say about this game. The Pirates offense again didn’t show up but the pitching staff did just like it did in the opener on Thursday. The difference was that the Pirates were able to tie up the game in the later innings and then were able to get a couple of clutch hits to close out the game. Not surprisingly some Phillies fans thought they were screwed out of the win. Yea, Pittsburgh fans/players whine too much.

The Phillies got on the board in the first inning but it could have been a ton worse. The first two hitters of the game reached but Jeff Karstens was able to shut it down and surrender only one run and then he and four other relievers didn’t allow a single run the rest of the night.

The Bucs got back on the board in the sixth. Yamaico Navarro walked and then came all the way around to score on a wild pitch to tie the game. To be honest he probably should have been out but Phillies starter Cliff Lee completely whiffed on catching the ball from catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The game was pretty quiet from then out until the 10th. After Juan Cruz worked a scoreless top of the inning Rod Barajas blasted a double off the top of the centerfield wall to lead off the inning. Literally this ball was two inches away from being a walk off. Mike McKenry then pinch ran for him (for real) and was moved to third by a great Clint Barmes bunt. Josh Harrison came up and was hit by a pitch (I guess) to bring up Jose Tabata who popped out. That set up Presley’s heroics (yea, I am calling it that). Presley hit a ball fairly well in between third and short and Jimmy Rollins fielded the ball and put a strong throw over to first but Presley was able to beat it out. Unreal.

Honestly the offense was really bad for the Pirates tonight. They did end with six hits but for about six innings they only were able to muster one hit and it was looking pretty bad. The pitchers really did a nice job of keeping the game close and giving the offense a chance to come through and they started to get a few hits later in the game and it finally paid off.

Honestly this recap should just be all about the pitching staff. Karstens left off where he was last year and went six strong innings and only gave up five hits and the lone run. After he worked through the tough first inning he pretty much cruised the rest of the day. He only threw 85 pitches and I would venture to guess he would have went one more inning if it wasn’t his first start but from what I saw it was just like the Karstens of 2011 which is a very good thing.

The bullpen was just as good. Tony Watson, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan pitched an inning each after Karstens and allowed zero hits and only two base runners which were both due to a pair of walks by Hanrahan. Cruz came on in the 10th and gave up a pair of hits but got out of the inning by striking out Hunter Pence with runners on first and second and two outs. Pence is a pretty good hitter that is really hard to get out and Cruz went right after him and got the out he needed to get. That is the second straight night that Cruz came on to pitch a great inning and I think this is going to be another case of Neal Huntington getting great value for the pen.

Overall the Pirates pitchers scattered seven hits and walked only three while throwing 101-of-157 pitches for strikes. Really solid effort and really the only reason that the Pirates had a chance to win the game.

No idea what to say about the offense. It is really bad right now. Until a Josh Harrison double in like the seventh inning the only players to have hits for the Pirates in the two games were Tabata and Presley. Andrew McCutchen finally got a hit and Barajas had a huge double so maybe we are starting to see some players getting around to it. I thought there were some more hard hit balls tonight, especially by Casey McGehee, that were just right at people but they didn’t fall. Let’s not forget that the Pirates are facing some great pitching this first series but you have to have some more production out of your lineup.

The Pirates will play a day game tomorrow to finish up the series. To get a series win out of this would be absolutely huge considering the run support the staff has got.

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