Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pirates Game 71 Recap - Pirates 4, Reds 0

As frustrating and hard to watch as yesterdays Pirates game was this game tonight was a lot more fun and a hell of a lot more enjoyable to take in. Charlie Morton came back for his second start with the big club and calmed the bats down in the Cincinnati lineup for a win. You might say he owned them:


On a more serious note it was another good outing for Morton. In his first start he looked a little too amped up and it resulted in his command falling my the wayside. Tonight was a totally different story. Morton threw 61 pitches in 5.1 innings of work where he gave up only three hits, struck out two, and didn't walk a single batter. That is a good outing my Morton. He was yanked pretty early by Clint Hurdle in a move I really didn't agree with but it all worked out in the end. I assume he was lifted because he had given up two base runners in the sixth and was going to face the heart of the order which was predominately left handed. In any turn it was a good outing for Morton and really encouraging to see him do this against a pretty good Reds lineup in a hitters ballpark.

The Pirates offense did nearly all of their damage in the first inning as they really worked Reds starter Mat Latos to the limit. They sent eight batters to the plate and scored three runs and had Latos really fired up for a number of reasons. Starling Marte started the game off with a triple to the right center gap and then scored on an infield single by Russell Martin. Pedro Alvarez platted two more with a long single into the left field corner with the bases loaded and that was about all she wrote.

After the first inning the Pirates really struggled offensively. Latos found his groove and just mowed down the Pirates. In the first inning the Pirates had three hits in the first inning and in the final eight innings combined they had only one hit. They struck out 17 times on the night and Latos had nine of those after a disastrous first inning. I guess it is good that the Pirates got all the runs they needed in the first inning because they were shut down outside of a Marte single that scored Jordy Mercer (who walked) in the seventh inning. It is no secret that the Pirates swing through a lot of pitches (third highest swing and miss rate headed into the night) and it is no secret that they strikeout a lot (fifth highest strikeout rate headed into the night) so I guess it is good that they can win a game where they were so brutally bad.

While the Pirates did strikeout 17 times they did walk six times. Now 17 strikeouts is embarrassingly bad but the Pirates made the most of the walks as it led to some runs in the first inning and then led to the Marte RBI knock in the sixth. Obviously I don't want to see the Pirates strikeout double digit times, but them walking six times is a good thing.

Marte was the only Pirate with more than one hit as he had two.

Russell Martin is just ridiculously good at throwing out base runners. Maybe it is because the catchers the Pirates have thrown out there the past ten years have been so brutally bad behind the plate that anyone average looked like the second coming but he has been as good defensively as advertised before the season. In the sixth inning Shin-Soo Choo reached with a leadoff single and tried to swipe second base but Martin threw an absolute laser to second to catch him by about a foot or two. After another base runner reached Joey Votto doubled to left. The Reds did not score that inning. Martin was a big reason for that.

The other big news of the game came thanks to Morton who hit Choo to lead off the bottom half of the first inning. It was Morton's first pitch of the game and hit Choo right in the shin. This was the retaliation I talked about from last night when Andrew McCutchen was hit then Neil Walker was buzzed. Morton also went a little high and tight on Votto and he took what seemed to be a little exception to it but I am not sure it was as close as Votto might have thought it was.

I actually thought Latos was going to respond back by hitting either Morton or McCutchen but thankfully it seemed like the early HBP to Choo kind of calmed everything down for the game. Hopefully this means this bs is over for the rest of the series and while I wasn't too keen on starting a beanball game I am glad that I was wrong about this blowing up to something bigger that is outside the realm of the actual game. I am glad to be wrong on this one. Maybe the best part of all this was that after Choo was hit Morton got Zack Cozart to bounce into a double play two pitches later. That just feels like Morton throwing the Reds the bird. It was awesome.

The Pirates recorded their 12th shutout of the season. Wow.

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