Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pirates Game 9 Recap - Pirates 4, Giants 1

The Pirates broke a five game skid today and beat the Giants 4-1. It was actually some sort of site to see. The Pirates offense showed up with eight hits and four runs and even a pair of well executed bunts in the eighth inning that resulted in some insurance runs. On top of that Kevin Correia produced his second good outing in a row. It was like watching a real ball club and I can say that after watching this team for the last five games.

I didn’t get to watch the complete Pirates game because I was mainly focusing in on the Penguins “game” but I did get to watch during the intermissions and during all of the TV timeouts and watched the final innings after the Pens “game” was over. I have to say I was pretty happy with what I saw. They got after Giants starter, and former Pirate, Ryan Vogelsong to earn the win. Vogelsong only gave up a pair of runs in 6.1 innings and actually pitched pretty decent only giving up four hits but he was an All-Star last season and really has been pitching well so it was good to get a win over him.

The Pirates scored a pair of runs in the second inning on a Garrett Jones home run to right field and a Alex Presley infield single that scored Neil Walker. It seemed like the offense was going to really take off but it did none of the sorts as it really switched into what happened last night. The Giants scored their only run off Correia in the fifth inning on a ground out to score Brandon Belt.

The Pirates scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning on some really nice bunting. I know that I, and many other Pirates bloggers, talk about how the Pirates bunt way too much (which they do) but today they actually did some good bunting. Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee got on and Neil Walker put down a nice bunt for a base hit and when Pablo Sandoval threw the ball away McCutchen scored and it set up the Pirates again. The very next batter, Josh Harrison, but down a great suicide squeeze to score McGehee and the Pirates got a pair of insurance runs.

I know some people weren’t too happy about the bunts but I thought this was the perfect time for these bunts. From what I saw during the game and the replays it looked as if Walker bunted on his own for a base hit which you can’t really pin on Hurdle if you are a person that hates bunts. I could be wrong but I would be surprised if that was a called sac bunt. Walker has been struggling and in a tight game he saw that Sandoval was playing back and if he got an average bunt down he would have a base hit and it worked. I am of the opinion that the job of a hitter to put pressure on the defense and this was a great spot to do that and he decided that he had a good shot to get it down and it worked to perfection. Harrison then came up and the last then that the Giants were probably expecting was a squeeze right after a bunt that put runners at second and third with one out. He got a strike and just got the bunt down. Pushed the lead to three in the eighth inning with Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan coming up. I liked it.

I understand why people didn’t like the bunt because you are giving up outs for basically free but at the same time isn’t that what you are doing with a sac fly? I know you have better odds of getting a hit than getting a bunt base hit on a sac but with a runner on third base and less than two outs as a hitter you go up there with the intention of hitting a fly ball to the outfield. That is giving up an out for a run. Could you get a double into the gap? Sure, but couldn’t you also get a base hit or reach on an error from a bunt? Absolutely. I am not defending all the bunts that Clint Hurdle uses but I thought they were well executed and timely today, even if they both weren’t called by him.

I probably rail against Correia as much as I do than anyone else the Pirates have and from his results last year I think it was pretty well reasoned. Coming into this year I wasn’t very happy that he was going to be in the rotation but he has really done a nice job the firsts two starts. Today he went six full innings and gave up only three hits and one run on two strikeouts and a walk. He did throw 91 pitches but really did a nice job of not giving up and huge innings or even base runners. He was really good on the road last year so I would want to see a start or two at PNC Park to say that he should be in the rotation but he’s done a really nice job so far this season.

Casey McGehee continues to swing the bat well and Neil Walker had two hits. Hell, Clint Barmes had a hit. The Pirates also drew five walks, three of which by Michael McKenry. Harrison only had three walks all of last year. Let that sink in.

Really nice that the Pirates were able to get a win. I could talk about some bad things such as Jose Tabata continuing to have bad at bats or Pedro Alvarez striking out way too much but whatever. It was a win so I am not even gonna touch that.

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