Over the last five seasons the Pirates were only able to win four times in Milwaukee. That is struggling in the biggest sense of the word. Living in the Milwaukee area I go to pretty much every Pirates game that they play in Milwaukee and needless to say it has been pretty frustrating to watch them over the past couple of years because they have been just getting owned in Miller Park. So far this season things are alright. Although it is just one game the Pirates worked over the Brewers, winning by six runs. The bad part? I am actually home in Pittsburgh so I wasn't as the game. Maybe that is the key?
This game pretty much was over by the third inning. With the Brewers up one (on a Nyjer Morgan home run nonetheless) Josh Harrison started off the inning with a triple into the right field corner and then Andrew McCutchen triple to the right centerfield gap to tie the game. Neil Walker, Matt Hague and Rod Barajas all single after the McCutchen hit to drive in two more runs but the biggest hit of the game came with two outs. The bases were loaded for Jose Tabata and he hit a ball really hard, just right at Morgan playing centerfield. It was a line drive and off the bat I gave a groan because although it was hit hard it was just right at Morgan. Then it happened, vintage Morgan. Instead of just standing there and catching the ball he ran in about six step and the ball sailed over his head for a bases clearing triple. 6-1 game and you could feel all the air go out of Miller Park. What a gratifying inning.
It was funny because even though it was a five run lead I didn't really feel that comfortable. Kevin Correia has been giving up home runs at a good rate this season and Miller Park is a sort of launching pad for balls going into the seats. Correia gave up a home run after that third inning but it turned out to be a meaningless solo shot from Corey Hard. McCutchen doubled home to more runs in the eighth inning just for good measure.
All in all I think things worked out pretty well for the Pirates. They got to Randy Wolf and hammered him. Too many times I have seen these soft tossing lefties come in and dominate the Pirates no matter how bad they have been through the season but the offense really came through with 13 hits and only struck out seven times. Really refreshing to see and the offense is finally starting to get some big hits and making opposing pitchers pay for putting them on base and making bad pitches. It was the third time in the last five games that the Pirates have collected more than ten hits and even though two of those games were against the Cubs and another against a struggling Wolf it is still progress.
Five different players tallied two hits and they were mostly in the latter half of the order as Hague, Walker and Barajas all had two hits. A more balanced lineup is going to give you a chance to win and even though Pedro Alvarez has a brutal night (0-for-5) the Pirates were still able to be effective offensively. Tabata and McCutchen also had a pair of hits to balance out the lineup at the top of the order.
One thing that frustrated me to no end happened in the first inning and I think you know where I am going with this. Tabata worked a lead off walk and stole second base with not outs. Great, running in scoring position and Harrison is up, one of the Pirates hotter hitters in the past couple of weeks. What does Clint Hurdle do? Tries to bunt with Harrison and it ends up that he puts down a terrible bunt and Tabata is easily throw out at third. When is this bullshit going to stop? Hurdle continues to push this "bunt at all cost" move and more often than not it is running the Pirates out of scoring opportunities. Not only is it that but the Pirates just aren't good at bunt the baseball. I wonder if Clint goes home and just continually bangs his head off the wall thinking it is going to cure his headache that he gets. That is how I envision it, at least.
I don't know how Correia does it. I thought it was going to get ugly with how he has been pitching but he held it together for 5.2 innings. With Charlie Morton going on the DL this probably means that Correia sticks in the rotation which doesn't make me happy but I guess there aren't a ton more options.
Hopefully the Pirates can pick up a win tonight in a game that will not be on TV thanks to the rediculous MLB blackout rules. Thank God baseball forces me to watch one game I probably don't want to see rather the choice of watching a game I really want to see. Makes sense, right?