Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pirates Game 111 Recap - Diamondbacks 6, Pirates 3

It would have been awesome to grab a series win today after losing two of three to the Reds to start this 20 games in 20 days voyage but the Pirates weren't able to do it as the Diamondbacks used the home run ball to beat the Bucs.

It was started early off Wandy Rodriguez as the DBacks used a pair of hits to score a pair of runs with the second hit being a two run bomb from Jason Kubel. The Pirates were able to get things started in their half of the second inning with three runs on four hits. Interesting enough that with the home run power that the Pirates have shown over this season it was four singles and a sacrifice fly that plated three runs. It almost seemed as if we were looking at the Pirates team of old where they would have to work so hard to score a few runs but it was good to see them string some hits together to take the lead.

Things flowed pretty well for the Pirates after that as Rodriguez was able to find a little bit of a groove. His pitch count was a little high and he did give up a few hits but worked out of jams that weren't that big of jams to begin with.

Things fell apart for The Pirates in the sixth and seventh innings with the DBacks hitting a two run shot in each inning. Arizona starter Joe Saunders shut the door after the big second inning and the Pirates offense never really got anything going. They had a chance in the seventh inning when Starling Marte tripled to right field (!) with two outs but with a full count Josh Harrison popped out on what would have been ball four.

Rodriguez's final line shows that he finished six innings with seven hits and four runs tagged to his name and all of those four runs really came on four hits. Back-to-back hits in the first inning and then a Chris Johnson single was followed by a Will Nieves home run to give the DBacks all the runs they would need. While Wandy hasn't been great in his last two starts he has been good enough to deserve a better fate. Funny enough that his worst start of the season is the game that the Pirates were able to win.

I am going to start this point by saying that I don't mind Harrison playing but there is no way he should be hitting at the top of the lineup. His .237/.286/.385 line is not something I want in the two spot which seems to be the only place Clint Hurdle thinks he can hit out of. His lack of ability to take a walk and be any kind of a treat really takes some luster off hitting between Marte and Andrew McCutchen but I doubt any of this changes. Harrison is a nice bench guy to have on the roster because he can play the super utility roll and if he does get hot (which he isn't) he can spell some different guys to get more playing time. I say that with the opinion that he should be hitting in the bottom half of the order. He is a free swinger and it would have been great to see him take a walk in the seventh to give McCutchen a chance to come up at the game tying run.

Jeff Locke was brought up to be a long guy in the pen due to Kevin Correia's start yesterday but man was he impressive in his 2.1 innings of work. He faced seven batters and not a single one of them reached base as he recorded a strikeout while only throwing 37 pitches (22 strikes). He delivery looked good and he didn't look intimidated at all on the bump and he could be a nice left handed option coming out of the pen for the stretch run.

Gaby Sanchez had a nice day for the first time as a Pirate as he collected three hits in four at bats and this was the reason that the Pirates picked him up. Sanchez is a very good hitter against left handed pitching and went 2-for-3 today against Saunders. He has had some pretty nice at bats so far but didn't have much to show for it but today he had a nice day at the plate hitting out of the four spot. Hopefully it can continue.

Marte had a really nice night. Again. Singled in his second at bat and then tripled off the right field wall at PNC later. If you know anything about PNC Park you know that the right field wall is tall but it isn't as if it is the North Side Notch depth wise. He might have got somewhat of a favorable bounce off the wall but got into third base with ease. This guy is just so much fun to watch.

Jared Hughes really had another tough night. It was a one run game when he came in the ballgame in the seventh inning but just couldn't get it done. Hughes has been really good for the Bucs so far this season and has gotten some really big outs but he came in only needing to hold the fort and he gave up another bomb to deep centerfield. I don't want to call this a fault of the pen because it was really just one guy but it is too bad that Hughes couldn't keep it at one run and given the team a better chance. It happens though and he was due for some regression. Unfortunate.

So far in the 20 game stretch the Pirates are 3-4 against two playoff teams. The Pirates now get the Padres before ramping it up against the Dodgers for a four game set. It would be nice if the Pirates could start a little winning streak here and take control of this stretch but it isn't going to be easy. Splitting a series isn't the worst thing in the world but the win today would have made it a lot better.

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