Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pirates Game 8 Recap - Pirates 6, Diamonbacks 5

-A little different baseball game last night as the Pirates actually got behind early and came back for the win. They pounded out 11 hits in the game which was three more than they got in the entire three game series in Los Angeles. It felt really good to see the Pirates continue from the night before and to grab a second win in a row.

-All told going into the game it was really all about James McDonald. The Pirates got on the board with a run in the first inning but JMac really didn't do a great job to hold that as he gave up four runs on three hits and a walk which included a two run bomb by Jason Kubel and a double by Miguel Montero. I actually thought it might be a long night for the Pirates but then JMac turned things around. He retired nine of the next ten batters he faced and after Wandy Rodriguez went out early the night before it was really important for McDonald to get some innings and save what was a taxed middle of the Pirates pen. McDonald actually got into the sixth inning which was a small miracle after throwing 31 pitches in the first inning but he was yanked after walking Paul Goldschmidt to lead off the sixth. All told McDonald went five plus innings and gave up just those four runs while striking out five and walking four. For me it was a pretty big to see McDonald be able to put that first inning behind him. Last year I am not sure if he would have been able to bounce back.

-Over the past couple of days and you watched this team there was no way they were going to come back from a multiple run deficit but last night was a different animal. The night before the Pirates got three runs in the first inning then only managed two hits after that and that has really been how things were going on nights that the Pirates were scoring runs. Last night the Pirates got McDonald the lead back with a five run fourth inning that scored on four hits and one Diamondbacks error. All nine players were sent to the plate and the real start of the inning actually came with McDonald at the plate. Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider both reached and there was one out. McDonald came up to bunt the runners over but the Diamondbacks ran the wheel play for the second time on the night against him. The first time McDonald bunted right into it and got Snider thrown out at third but the second time he brought the bat back and slapped a single up the middle which loaded the bases with one outs. Following that Starling Marte doubles home a pair of runs, Neil Walker singled home a pair and Garrett Jones singled home another run. Just a small heads up play by McDonald led to give runs being scored.

-Jones finished the night 3-of-5 with a pair of runs driven in on three singles. Jones went deep last night but where he is hitting in the lineup they really need him to provide some protection for Andrew McCutchen and even if he is just hitting singles through the right side that is good enough for me. He doesn't have to hit 35 or 40 home runs but if he can get on base at a decent clip that makes a world of difference in the early innings when he will be facing more right handed pitching.

-Marte really has been great. two more hits last night and is now hitting .313/.353/.406 and has led the game off with a hit in the last four games. He has two hits in each of his last four games after a really slow start to the season so the Pirates need to continue to ride this hot streak.

-The pen did a pretty decent job after McDonald left. Jared Hughes struggled in less than an inning of work (0.2) where he walked a pair of guys after he came in for Tony Watson who was able to get a double play to get out of a tough jam after he came in for JMac. Mark Melancon pitched the eighth inning and threw only seven pitches to get the three outs and really looked great. Jason Grilli came on and gave up a hit but earned his third save of the year.

-Melancon has only pitched a few times for the Pirates this year but so far he has looked really good. Only time will tell but the cutter he was throwing was pretty nasty. It comes in at 93 and was really running and dropping in to left handed hitters and they had no answer to that pitch. Losing Joel Hanrahan was going to be tough seeing how new the pen was but having Melancon in the back end of the pen is a huge help.

-Day game for the Pirates today to finish up the series.

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