Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pirates Game 3 Recap - Cubs 3, Pirates 2

-The Pirates sure do know how to lose baseball games in the most painful way possible. I think people throw around the phrase "Pirates loss" and I think that a ton of people know exactly what that means. Today it was the Pirates being down 3-0 entering the ninth inning and then somehow working the score to 3-2 with the tying run on third with no outs and still losing the game 3-2. Just brutal. Although since this happens pretty often I wasn't all that shocked.

-For the most part the game was just as bad as the other games this season. After eight innings of play the Cubs were up only 1-0 thanks in part to a really nice effort from James McDonald but the Cubs were able to gather two more runs on a home run by Nate Schierholtz that made the game 3-0 and with the way the Pirates had hit the ball up to that point (one hit) there was no chance they were coming back.

-The Pirates actually made things really interesting. Starling Marte led off with a single then Russell Martin walked and Andrew McCutchen singled home Marte for the Pirates first run. Gaby Sanchez then singled through the right side and all of a sudden the Pirates really looked like they would be at to at least tie the game. According to the run expectancy chart when you have runners on first and third with no out the average number of runs scored is 1.853 runs. So, yea, to expect to even tie the game was pretty for sure. That is until Pedro Alvarez struck out in a terrible at bat then Neil Walker followed up with a double play in an awful at bat. Just brutal.

-That is about it. There really isn't much more to the story. The Pirates can do some brutal things but with the tying run on third base and no outs you have to do whatever to get that run in. Put the ball in the air in the outfield almost anywhere and the game is tied. They didn't deserve to win the game, or even to go to extra innings, but they were in a possession to win but they decided to grasp defeat in the face of victory.

-Coming into the game there really wasn't anything else that needed talked about but what McDonald was going to be able to do on the mound. He has been amazingly up and down from the second half of last season on but today he had his stuff and he was pretty outstanding the entire day. He worked seven full innings and threw 97 pitches while giving up only one run on two hits and walking two. His velocity was down quite a bit as his fastball averaged only 89 while he was able to only get his top speed to 92.5. Through all of last season McDonald was averaging 92.5 on his fastball so the drop is pretty substantial. I guess it will be interesting to see if it had something to do with the cold as the past couple days have been basically just above freezing but hopefully this was just a one game thing. All-in-all though McDonald looked really good and while he wasn't perfect he put in a good outing.

-It is just so disappointing that once again the Pirates wasted a good outing from their starters. For the first three games the Pirates got really good outings from their starters and they only have one win to show for it. With how highly the Pirates pitchers are going to variate, especially McDonald, you have to get wins when they pitch well. Now they are off to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers top two tomorrow and Saturday and it's not going to be easy. You have to win games like this.

-Once again the Pirates weren't able to get any substantial offense out of any hitters. Nobody had more than one hit and right now nobody looks good at the plate. Alvarez isn't striking out as much but he isn't putting good wood on the ball at all and Marte's plate appearances are really hard to watch sometimes. The Pirates have nobody that can get on base at a reasonable clip and they just look pretty lost at the plate.

-Really interesting bullpen decision today from Clint Hurdle. After Mark Melancon came in to pitch a scoreless eight inning Hurdle went with Hughes. I am not saying that Hughes is bad but at the juncture of the game they were in I find it curious that they wouldn't go with their best with it only being a one run game and the Pirates having the top of the order up. Hughes got a strikeout then a walk then another strikeout before hitting a bomb. This is easy to say after the fact but Hughes really isn't the top option in the pen, especially when Melancon was the only guy used out of the pen at the time. I would think with how unsettled the Cubs pen was he would want to hold that one run lead. It almost worked with Hughes, but it didn't.

-Interesting how MLB set up opening weekend. The Pirates hosted the Cubs and then they play a day game the day they have to fly out to the West coast. I have no idea why they didn't just give the Pirates the day off since they are going West but what do I know. I also think that the Pirates should have started the season somewhere warm or that at least had a dome so they don't have to play in 35 degree weather but MLB has been really dropping the ball in that regard.

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