Today was one of those old throwback Coors Field games. 11 runs were scored through the first three innings and neither pitcher could do anything to keep the ball in the ballpark but the Pirates were able to hit just enough home runs to beat the Rockies.
It was kind of a weird feeling listening to this game for the first four innings at work. I came out of a meeting and turned on my MLB At-Bat app and heard that the Pirates were down 3-0 after one inning. The weird part wasn't really that the Pirates were down by three but that I didn't really bat my eyes or think "it's over" I just sort of thought the Pirates were going to come back and win.
I was sort of right to think that as Pedro Alvarez went deep in his first at bat in the top of the second inning and I thought that the Pirates could make up the two run deficit as long as James McDonald could pitch well from there on out. He didn't. The Pirates fell behind 5-1 after two innings but the fun was just beginning to start.
The top of the third was where the Pirates turned it on. They sent ten men to the plate in their half of the third inning and scored five runs, all with two outs. I talked yesterday about how the four two out runs the Pirates had in fifth inning was a nice thing to see and today was the same. McDonald started off the inning with a single up the middle which was followed by outs by Alex Presley and Neil Walker. Andrew McCutchen walked and Garrett Jones went big fly to right centerfield to cut the lead to one. Some time later Clint Barmes singled home a pair of runs and the Pirates had the lead.
The Rockies tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth inning but the Pirates got it right back, for good this time, in the fifth inning with a Casey McGehee two run bomb and a Rod Barajas home run. Everyone was getting into the party.
While it was weird to expect this win, and maybe this means the Pirates are turning that corner, it was even more weird to have the Pirates score nine runs and bust out without McCutchen or Walker having a hit. Between those two they went 0-for-8 with a pair of walks hitting in the two and three spots. If that happens earlier this year the game is over but it was nice to see the rest of the offense pick up the slack.
Truth be told I am not really sure what is up with McDonald. He had another bad start today and it was the same problems as he had when he threw in Milwaukee, he couldn't throw strikes and he had no idea where the ball was going to go. The result was the same where he threw 108 pitches to get through five innings where he gave up nine hits and six runs, all earned. He only struck out two batters and walked four more. Maybe he just needs to take a side session to figure something out and I am not going to get overly worked out over two starts but it would be nice to see some type of adjustment in his next outing. He doesn't have to be the best pitcher in the National League right now but he needs to be a lot better than he has been.
I have no idea what to think of Alvarez coming out of the gate. Including today has been 4-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and three home runs since the All-Star break. Today he had a much better day at the plate going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in and a home run but he also struck out half of his plate appearances and has been doing so since the All-Star break. It does look like he is making better adjustments and that isn't looking lost at the plate so that is good. He is always going to be a high strikeout guy and even though his slash line is only .227/.299/.486 he has still driven in a lot of runs and hit 19 home runs. We mustn't forget that Alvarez only has 959 plate appearances total so this is still a guy that is learning and adjusting.
Joel Hanrahan earned the save and to be honest this might have been his best outing of the year. The slider was staying down and getting good movement and he was getting ahead of hitters and not leaving anything over the plate. This year Hanrahan has had some trouble with his control but that was not the case today and hopefully he can start putting it together down the stretch.
The Pirates will get the day off tomorrow before opening a home series against the Miami Marlins on Friday. Should be fun.