Monday, July 2, 2012

Pirates Game 79 Recap - Pirates 11, Astros 2

So, I think it is safe to say that 11 runs and 18 hits is enough for the Pirates to grab a win, especially on a night when James McDonald was pitching. It wasn't pretty early but the Lumber Company showed up and put an absolute beating on the Astros tonight.

The Pirates crushed nine extra base hits which included a pair of home runs, two triples and five doubles. Just to put this in some perspective this is what Dave Manel tweeted out after the Pirates hit their eighth extra base hit:

Oh man.

Things weren't so good to start the game as McDonald had a really tough time in the first inning for the second straight start. In the first he walked three batters and nearly threw 30 pitches but managed to get out of it with only one run scoring. No idea how.

The offense wasn't much better to start as they only recorded one hit through the first three innings and a lot of people on my timeline were giving the "here we go again" stuff as it wasn't looking good. Luckily for everyone the game went in a complete other direction in the fourth inning. The Pirates had five hits and scored four runs thanks the first five hitters getting on base which was highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Garrett Jones and Neil Walker which both hit the right field foul pool. It was the fifth time of the year that the Pirates have gone back-to-back. Unreal stuff.

If four was good in the fourth then four more were even better in the fifth inning as they scored all those runs on four hits which included four extra base hits. Here is how the fifth inning went:

Drew Sutton - Triple
Andrew McCutchen - Double
Jones - Double
Walker - Walk
Casey McGehee - Double

So, yea, the Pirates will take allllllll the doubles.

The Pirates continued to mash as they had four more hits in the sixth and three more in the eighth with a few more hits sprinkled in the other innings. Just a really fun thing to watch.

When you have 18 hits in the game you are really doing a lot of things right but check out the box score just to give you an idea of how good things went:

Alex Presley continues to play really good baseball and had a pair of hits and Sutton actually has been better than I thought with a pair of hits and a triple. Sutton is interesting because when he was with the Rays he played really well for three games then went in the tank and for a guy that has been a career minor leaguer you don't really expect a lot but he has been good. You gotta ride this hot hand while you have it.

McCutchen is just an absolute monster right now. He had four hits after getting the day off and is now hitting at a .354/.407/.600 line. What might be most impressive about this is his slugging percentage because while he does have power I really didn't expect to see this halfway through the season to this extend. With the four hits McCutchen now has 100 hits on the season through 79 games. He has a real shot at 200 hits if he can continue hitting well (maybe not this well) throughout the second half. I did some research during the game and since 2005 only 33 times have their been 200 hits in a season. That is an impressive milestone to reach and I think that he might be able to work that. What a player.

I have no idea what to think about Jones. He can be so awful at times and at other times he did what he did tonight. 4-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBI. While he doesn't get on base a lot (.292 OBP) his other line numbers are good. .262 isn't a great batting average but for a power guy I will take that hand the .505 slugging is good. I wish he had some more consistency but hey, whatever.

McGehee has just been great after a bad start to the season. Three more hits on the night and clubbed two doubles and also made two great plays in the field at third base. This was the kind of player I thought the Pirates were getting gand we are starting to see that now. The start of the year was pretty bad but he has been a nice platoon option for Jones.

McDonald wasn't good in the first inning but he really settled down, just as he did in his last start. There was no way I thought he could get to the seventh inning after the first but he did and did so by giving up only four hits and two runs. He got into some trouble and walked five guys overall but when he got into trouble he was able to get the big outs. Aside from the first inning it was a really good start for JMac.

The best part of the night for me was that the Pirates went up against a bad team and didn't give them a chance to even feel like they could win the game. It was only a year or two ago that the Pirates were the team that everyone rolled over but with a majority of the month's games against the Astros and Cubs the Pirates need to stack wins and they did that tonight. They played a bad team and beat them and left question about it. Good teams do that.

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