As horrible as the series with the Padres had been it got a lot worse to start this one. Erik Bedard threw 30+ pitches and the Padres scored four runs. They added another run in the second inning and things just weren't going right. The Pirates have been giving up runs like like it was their job in the first inning and it was another leadoff home run today against Bedard. It wasn't just Bedard, it was the defense, it was quick outs, it was everything that has gone wrong in the series put together in the first inning and a half.
The panic button was pushed by a lot on twitter and for as much as I advocated against that when Clint Barmes ran into Pedro Alvarez fielding a ground ball in the second inning with two outs to extend the inning I started to think that things weren't going to be going good moving forward. This was after Barmes threw a ball away in the first that scored two runs.
In baseball you never know what can happen. Sometimes it only takes one inning to flip a switch, change the vibe and win a baseball game. That inning was the fourth inning for the Pirates. They had scored one in the third inning but the floodgates opened as they sent 14 to the plate and scored nine runs in the inning for the first time since 2010. Take a look:
The hit of the inning came off Barmes' bat and it was a grand slam that rang off the foul pole in left field. If you saw the game and watched Barmes go into the dugout you saw how pumped he was and how some sort of weight was lifted off his shoulders. This doesn't make up for him hitting around the Medoza line but you have to feel great for a guy that has struggled and gets a massive hit when the team really needs it. He was having a really lousy game and this made everyone forget about it. Just awesome.
Bedard wasn't great on the mound but he bounced back and went five innings and saved the pen a little bit. He did walk four and threw over 100 pitches in five innings but he struck out six and only gave up five hits. He gave up five runs but only three of them were earned thanks to some really bad defense. I talked a few nights ago about how it was hard to figure out what I think about Tony Watson as a pitcher, well I think I can say the same thing about Bedard. He wasn't good today and he wasn't bad, he just got the job done which is what the Pirates needed. Oh yea, he also went 1-for-2 from the plate with a double, walk and two runs scored. Awesome.
The offense blew up in that one inning and it was pretty awesome that by the end of the fourth inning every single Pirates starter except for Starling Marte scored a run. Just unreal stuff. I talked about plate discipline a lot the last couple of days but the Pirates were able to draw eight walks today and only struck out six times. In the fourth inning Ross Ohlendorf didn't have any control and rather than swing wildly at everything the Pirates took a good approach to the plate and they got rewarded.
Every starter except Gaby Sanchez record a hit and no player was more locked in than Neil Walker. Walker went 5-for-5 with a walk and came a triple shy of the cycle. He did all this only seeing 14 pitches and his first three at bats he was 3-for-3 and only saw three pitches. There is being locked in and then there is what Walker was in today. His line is up to .294/.358/.460 and he is hitting much, much, better than I thought he would this year. When he is in the two spot he is setting the table for McCutchen and Jones and when he hits fifth he is driving in runs. Can't ask much more for your second baseman.
So, I guess the sky isn't falling anymore? The Pirates are 2.5 games up on both the Dodgers and Cardinals for the wild card and they have their next seven games against those two teams. Buckle up.