Last night in the recap I talked about how hard it is for the Pirates, or any team, to sweep a four game series and today's Pirates game and performance. The Pirates hadn't swept a four game series on the road since 1997 and while the Pirates have got just about every break in the series they couldn't overcome a really brutal first inning where A.J. Burnett gave up four hits and the Pirates defense committed three errors and put them on the wrong side by four runs at the onset and while they were able to square the game in the ninth inning it was too little, too late.
I didn't get to see the first inning but after that pretty terrible inning Burnett seemed to bounce back to some degree. He did give up a lot of base runners in the first inning but from inning two through seven he gave up only five hits and one walk. Burnett hasn't been as good as you would want him to be and while he was generally good today he had one bad inning and in the end that cost the Pirates the game. I was actually surprised he got through seven innings as he has a propensity to throw a lot of pitches but he was able to keep the game at a four run deficit and give the Pirates a chance to come back. At one point he escaped a bases loaded, no out jam with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
This was a little bit of a weird game. As I said above the Pirates got behind 4-0 in the first inning but chipped away the Nationals lead to only one run by the sixth inning thanks to a two run bomb from Josh Harrison in the sixth. That pretty much got the Pirates square and really had you feeling that they were going to win. Unfortunately for the Pirates Vin Mazzaro had a rare night where he wasn't good and gave up three runs in the eighth inning to stretch the lead back to four for the Nationals. In the top of the ninth the top of the order was up and it got really interesting. The Pirates ended up scoring a few runs and got the bases loaded with two outs, down by two. Harrison came up and wacked a 2-2 pitch back up the middle to plate a pair of runs and tie the game. Just unreal what this team can do. Bottom of the ninth though and drove a pitch from Bryan Morris into the left centerfield seats for a walk-off. Losses suck.
While the loss stings this kind of game really is what the Pirate team is all about. Twice they were down four runs and both times they battled back to make a game of it and then tie it. Down by four runs in the ninth inning is not something that any team, or fan, feels good about but with this team you always have the feeling that if they can get a guy or two on early they can make something happen.
Jordy Mercer continues to swing a pretty good bat. He completed a 3-for-4 night with a couple of doubles and a walk. He wasn't performing very well offensively but has bounced back nicely the last week or so and that is good to see. While Clint Barmes has been swinging a decent bat I think we all know that probably won't last and to get some good games from Mercer makes me feel much better.
The top of the Nationals lineup killed the Pirates today. The 1-4 hitters combined to go 11-for-19 with six runs scored.
While the Pirates lost this game I still think this is successful series winning 3-of-4. While the Pirates have got to 21 game over .500 they have never been able to get to 22 wins over. I think these are the kind of problems that good teams normall have. This is weird.