The game overall wasn't very good for the Pirates. Going into the night they were only 7-for-42 with runners in scoring position and last night they only went 1-for-10 so despite getting some guys on base they were continually not good at getting them in. A.J. Burnett wasn't on the top of his game giving up a ton of hits but able to get out of trouble on a consistent basis and the defense was just really, really, bad for stretch of this game. Despite all that the Pirates were going to extra innings with the Padres. They lost, it was frustrating and I wasn't even frustrated at any of the on field players.
This isn't going to be as much of a recap as it is a "what the hell is going on in there" post. As you know I am not a big fan of Clint Hurdle's in game managing tactics as I think they are pretty awful and last night he just added to my case.
Granted I don't want to take away from the game itself because the Pirates have no been good the last couple of days. If it wasn't for Burnett taking a fire extinguisher to some situations this game could have been a lot uglier a lot earlier. The offense had five runs and 12 hits but like I said the 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position is just unacceptable.
With all that said the manager of this did, and the general manager of the team, are not putting the team in the best possible situation to win. Tony Watson came in to relieve Burnett with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to give up sacrifice fly to give the Padres a one run lead. The Pirates could do nothing but this game was still far from over. What does Hurdle do? Brings in Chad Qualls. Now, I know that Hurdle loves trusting the veterans but where is Jason Grilli? Why is it that holding a one run lead is so vastly different than trying to keep a game at a one run deficit? With two at bats left and the Pirates offense at least getting runner on why is Qualls your second arm out of the pen? Is this just saying you don't really care and you are just throwing your hands up? Surprising to no one Qualls gives up a run and looks pretty terrible.
So the Pirates go into the top of the ninth and get just a massive home run from Garrett Jones to tie the game. It was Jones' second home run of the night and it was mashed to dead center and there was life. Now, I am NOT saying that if Grilli or Resop or Hughes came out and didn't give up a run that Jones would have still hit a home run but I think you get my point. Why Qualls is in that situation, let alone on the 25 man roster, is just baffling to me.
So the Pirates are tied and then it is OK for Grilli to come out and hold the tie score. He did and the game was off to extras. The Pirates couldn't get anything going and then newly called up Daniel McCutchen was called on for the 10th. Again, not Hughes, not Resop and not Hanrahan but McCutchen. Now, I am sure McCutchen is a good guy but he was brought up to be long relieve in case they needed him. I am not sure the 10th inning of a game where you have nearly your entire bullpen is time for the long relief guy. Was Hurdle planning on this going 19 innings in the 10th? I sure as hell hope not. Well, predictably, McCutchen walked the first batter and got behind 3-0 on Chase Headley. McCutchen showed no control and the 3-2 pitch was right down the gut.
If you watch the replay of Headley's homer on the Padres' broadcast, McCutchen's pitch is actually EXACTLY middle-middle.
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) August 22, 2012
Like, the ball fits perfectly in the middle box of the middle row in the nine-box strike zone.
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) August 22, 2012
The result was a walk-off home run.
So to recap. With the top of the order coming up in the tenth inning of a game your offense just came back to tie you go with your worst bullpen arms in the the eighth and tenth innings and they combine to give up three runs in a 7-5 loss. I have no idea what was going through Hurdles head but while the offense struggled at times and while the defense was pretty bad Hurlde was probably the worst of the offenders last night.
This just isn't all on Hurdle though. The problem is that Qualls and McCutchen never should have been on this roster to begin with. With guys like Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson and Kyle McPherson sitting in AAA why is there room on the 25 man for Qualls and McCutchen? The best 25 players are not on the 25 man roster and that is the problem. That is just as much fault of Neal Huntington as anyone else and while I bet they are trying to wait until the rosters expand in September that is going to be two weeks too late.
If the Pirates stick with guys like Qualls and McCutchen in these situations over the next week then the team isn't going to win games and they will not make the playoffs. I have been as optimistic as anyone but shit like this can't fly when you are in a playoff race. It is unacceptable.It is unacceptable to not have your best players on the team. There is some credence to the point that Hurdle can only do so much based on the roster he has but it is just as much Clint's fault as is it Huntintgton's. Just can't do it.
I know it might seem like I am blowing things out of proportion and maybe I am to an extent, but this is the type of shit that Hurdle has been doing all season and it is no more frustrating now than it was two months ago. Hurdle is a great clubhouse guy but in terms being an in game manager he is very poor. I wish I could say things will change, but I don't think it will.
Try to salvage the series today.