Well, the game was much better than it was last night but still the same result. What turned out to be the winning play in a tie game was a leadoff triple by Scott Rolen. It isn't the way you want the game to end but it was a much better effort than the previous starts by James McDonald but the Pirates just couldn't get it done at Great American Ball Park.
It was pretty much all Reds throughout the game as they got up 2-0 in the first inning. After a leadoff single and then an error from Pedro Alvarez led to a second and third with no out situation off the bat. McDonald was able to get back-to-back strikeouts but Rolen came up with a first pitch single to scored the games first runs. Frustrating.
The Pirates got the runs back in the second and third inning to tie the game with a Michael McKenry home run and a Neil Walker sacrifice fly to tie the game. The Reds came right back with a pair of runs in the third inning on a few of soft hits, frustrating again but McDonald settled in.
The Pirates got a Josh Harrison (!) home run in the fourth and then a Travis Snider sac fly in the sixth inning to make this a bullpen battle. The Reds went with two of their three best in Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton who got scoreless innings while the Pirates went with Jared Hughes and it backfired in the second of his two innings. Hughes was pretty good in the first but was a bit puzzled to see him in the second inning and after he gave up a leadoff triple to Rolen. He then scored when Todd Frazier hit a bouncer off the plate which was high enough to score Rolen. Not really sure I agree with brining Hughes in for a second inning but that is neither here nor there.
McDonald might not have been "great" by any stretch but he had a really nice start. He gave up some "lucky" hits that fell in which pretty much falls into the BABIP line but he retired ten of his last 11 hitters and struck out four of them. He was a little inconsistent but he was miles better than he previous start after the All-Star break and I think it is absolutely a step in the right direction for the foreseeable future.
The offense was able to capitalize on some opportunities tonight which is a nice change of pace but the fact that only four hitters had hits tonight was a problem. All of those hitters that were able to have hits had two each but not having other players contribute with at least a runner on is a bit disturbing. McKenry had another solid day with two hits as did Jones, Harrison and Alex Presley but you need to have Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen come through at some point.
The offense went 0-for-5 with runner in scoring position which is probably the difference in the game today.
The umpiring was bad in the game today, specifically the home plate umpire Brian Gorman. I am not saying that he was out to get the Pirates but if you know me you know I don't really like the idea of having robots call games and he swayed my decision tonight. I am not talking about borderline calls, I am talking about balls eight inches outside being called strikes. It wasn't on a consistent basis either as Pedro Alvarez had a pitched called a strike on a pitch eight inches outside and the very next pitch was an inch closer and it was called a ball. I want to make it clear that in no way did the umpires beat the Pirates, the Reds did. The Pirates had their opportunities and the Reds were the better team, again, but the umpires need to be at least consistent. I think that is all we as fans want.
Again there was an incident tonight when Harrison got hit in the second inning and some exchanges of words happened. What I found interesting was that Gorman warned both benches when the Pirates did absolutely nothing wrong and the Reds were at the absolute center of attention. When the benches were warned Clint Hurdle came out to get an explanation and was throw out after one sentence. I guess I just don't get the whole thing since the Pirates literally did nothing and Hurlde is the one to get tossed. If he was in the face yelling right away I understand getting tossed but it wasn't even close to being like that. It seemed as if Gorman wanted to be the center of attention. If he was really worried about this happening then you warn both teams before the game. this was about him making sure everyone knew he was there umpiring the game. I would not be shocked to see A.J. Burnett throw at someone tomorrow. I know a lot of people wanted to see a Reds player thrown at today but I am glad the Pirates didn't. There wasn't an opportunity to do so and that is how it is. This isn't a muscle showing contest, don't treat it like one. After saying that I do not mind one bit if Burnett throws one at the ribs of a Reds hitter tomorrow.
In closing I guess I would just say that I know a lot of people are going to be reacting differently to losing two of three already from the Reds. I know some people are going to think this a pretty bad things now and some will just say this is a part of baseball. All I will say is that this is August 4th and the Pirates are 14 games over .500. 14. Before the season I thought this was a 75 win team and they are still proving me wrong every day. If the Pirates get swept tomorrow they are still leading the wild card race and are 6.5 games out of the division. I think 100% of Pirates fans would take that if offered at the beginning of the season even if it meant getting swept at this juncture. This is baseball, you can't win them all. Your team is going to win games like this and they are going to lose games like this. Unfortunately they lost a game like this tonight but that doesn't diminish the grand scheme picture. This is still a pretty dam good team and they made this game tonight a lot close with the Reds having a stronger overall lineup tonight. Keep it all in perspective because a win tomorrow and they only lose one game in the standings and even if they lose things aren't really all that bad.
A.J. Burnett on the mound tomorrow. Gotta get that win.