Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pirates Game 21 Recap - Pirates 5, Phillies 3

-The Pirates got handled pretty well by Roy Halladay to start the game and while they were down 3-1 after six innings of work and it looked like it was going to be a continuation of the first two games of the series where the Pirates just went quietly into the night despite a gutty effort from Wandy Rodriguez. Best thing that happened was that Halladay got lifted and the Pirates went on to score four runs in the final three innings and assure them of at least a sweep in the series. Really huge.

-Rodriguez wasn't his best tonight but he was able to fight through it and give the Pirates a chance to win. He only went 5.2 innings and walked two while giving up nine hits but he was able to get out of some tough jams and keep the game close. He didn't have the best feel with his curveball and got taken way deep twice and even fought through a 30+ pitch inning when you could tell he was visibly frustrated. All that said he kept the game close until Halladay was taken out of the game and the Pirates could square up some of the Phillies pitchers.

-The pen was once again good. Vin Mazzaro was especially good as he went 1.1 innings and went through the top of the Philadelphia lineup in the seventh inning without a problem. Would I have left him in to face Ryan Howard who homered about 800 feet earlier off Rodriguez? No, probably not, but he made it work and got through the inning and handed the ball off to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. Those two combined to give up only one hit and they were their usual selves. It is really fun to watch.

-Pedro Alvarez with another nice game as he picked up two hits including a home run. The home run was even off a left handed pitcher!!!! He started off the Pirates scoring in the fourth inning with a two out RBI single off Halladay and then cut the Phillies lead to 3-2 with a home run to right field. You want to know how strong Alvarez is? All you have to do is watch his home run off Antonio Bastardo. It was an off speed pitch on the outer half and he was way out front of the pitch but was somehow able to get the barrel on it and used pretty much all upper body strength to hit it out to right. Really awesome to see. No idea how he was able to pull that ball out of the park but he did.

-The Pirates really took over after Bastardo left and set up man Mike Adams was brought in. Adams started the inning by walking pinch hitter Jose Tabata and then the fun started. Starling Marte was next up and Clint Hurdle wanted him to bunt. Don't ask me why but this was a horrible decision. Luckily for the Pirates Marte fouled off two straight bunts and he was allowed to swing and all he did was pick up an infield single. Then the number two batter came up, Travis Snider, and Hurdle wanted him to bunt. Now, this bunt is a little more defensible but I have no idea how two of your hottest hitters come up and you want them both to bunt. As if they are incapable of moving runner up with base hits. After a failed first attempt at a bunt Snider was either not given the bunt sign or just ignored it (probably not but I really wish this was the case) and singled through the middle to tie the game. Runners now on first and third and no outs and the Phillies pulled Adams who didn't record a single out and brought a lefty on to face Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, and Alvarez. Well Hurdle used one of his last bench options and called on Brandon Inge and I just had a bad feeling about it. Luckily it worked out and Inge singled home a run. The Pirates didn't get another run but I think the point of bunting not resulting in any of those runs scoring should signal that bunting was still a horrible idea with your two best hitters.

-I think that it might be time to give Andrew McCutchen a day off to clear his head. Throw Marte in center and let both Snider and Tabata play. Cutch has been struggling a good deal lately and just hasn't been squaring balls up. It would be much different if he was hitting balls right at guys but it seems like every time he is making contact it results in weak ground balls to the left side of the infield. I have no doubt that he is going to get hot but he hasn't had solid contact in some time. A game off wouldn't kill him.

-I still don't like having James McDonald and Inge on the team at the same time but Inge has come up with some pretty huge at bats the last two games. I don't expect this to continue but at least he is getting these hits in close games when the Pirates need them rather than in a blowout when they are "wasted."

-Pretty big win overall for the Pirates. When Halladay was dealing it looked like they might lose two of the first three of the series and have to go into tomorrow against Cliff Lee with a wildly inconsistent James McDonald on the mound. Now it seems as if they are playing with a little house money. I say that because I think coming in getting a split would have been nice and anything more than that is just gravy. Get that gravy tomorrow.

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