Friday, August 24, 2012

Pirates Game 125 Recap - Brewers 6, Pirates 5

Another day and another loss for the Pirates, this time to the Brewers, at PNC Park. This slide that the Pirates were on was hoped to be over after the teams first day off in almost three weeks but it didn't. They got behind early, tied the game and then some shoddy bullpen management lead to a four run seventh inning that the Pirates offense couldn't overcome despite some late inning (almost) magic. Another frustrating loss.

The good thing, I guess, was that they escaped the first inning without giving up a run. So, that was cool. It didn't last long as the Brewers strung together multiple hits and it was 2-0 after 1.5 innings. Bleh.

The offense finally woke up in the fourth inning after they went weakly in order the first time through the order. Jose Tabata and Travis Snider then led off with a single and double and then Andrew McCutchen singled them both home. Woo hoo.

Things went relatively well for the Pirates as Wandy Rodriguez did a nice job of keeping the Brewers off base and getting out of trouble when he needed to and probably made his best start as a Pirate. He went 6.2 innings and was pulled probably earlier than he should have though he had hit the 100 pitch mark.

When Rodriguez came out he had a runner on first and two outs which I didn't really think was all that big of a deal considering how well he pitched but Clint Hurdle went with Jared Hughes instead. Hughes proceeded to plunk Rickie Weeks and walk Ryan Braun and came nowhere near the plate in either at bat. In my mind I thought this was a time to come out and get Hughes with the bases loaded and him not being able to find the zone, at all, but Hurdle decided to stick with Hughes and he grooved an 0-1 pitch to Aramis Ramirez and it got taken into the gap to score all three runs. Moreover he was left in the game to face Corey Hart and proceeded to give up another run. Frustrating.

The Pirates actually made it incredibly interesting in the ninth inning. With Jon Axford on the mound the Pirates strung together some base runners with a pair of walks and then a Neil Walker single to bring the winning run to the plate. Pedro Alvarez and Jeff Clement both struck out to dampen the chances for the Pirates but a Michael McKenry single made it a one run ballgame. Gaby Sanchez then came up and became the last out in what turned out to be a tough loss for the Bucs.

I really don't mind the choice to go to Hughes because I think he has done a decent job this year and I feel pretty good when he comes into the game. However, when you are nowhere around the plate you have to have a short hook. The offense has been scuffling and striking out a ton so you needed to keep the game tied at two and let the backend of your pen get a chance. For some reason Hurdle is stuck with this philosophy that relief pitchers can't be taken out in the middle of the inning. The hook should have been shorter with Hughes and it wasn't. Did it totally cost the Pirates the game? That is for you to decide but, I don't think I would have let him pitch to Ramirez. I know that sounds extremely hindsight but you are going to have to trust that is what my gut said.

I guess the most frustrating part of all this is that the best bullpen arms are not on the Pirates rosters. Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris, who could have both easily been in the situation that Hughes was in. I have no idea why guys like Chad Qualls is still on the roster when Morris and Wilson are just chillin in AAA. I guess they will eventually come up to the team but as everyday passes that they aren't the Pirates are another day closer to not making the playoffs.

The offense struck out 13 times on the night. Three times in the ninth inning in big spots. I am pretty surprised to see everyone kind of, well, surprised that the Pirates are striking out so much. Surprised as if the Pirates aren't the worst team in the league in K% (they are). It is good the the Pirates can get a ton of runs with one swing of the bat but this team is littered with guys that are going to strike out a lot and that is just the way it is going to be. Not a lot of these guys are good OBP guys and you have to live with that because it is a little late to worry about it now.

This was a bad loss to begin with and turned even more sour with the late inning offense that showed up for the Pirates. I don't like to peg this one one person, and I won't, but the bullpen management was pretty bad tonight and that is turning into a trend.

The good thing is that Pirates are still only two games back of the wild card (at the time of me writing this since the Reds and Cardinals are still playing) and a win tomorrow won't make everything better but I think you can term "stop the bleeding" to how I would feel if the Pirates won.


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