This game was really crappy. Well, at times it was crappy and at times it was cool but in the end it was crappy. I guess that means it overall is crappy since that is how the game was left off which is not good. The Pirates really struggled to hit the ball again and despite that they held a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning. The Pirates called in Mark Melancon and he blew a save. Coming into the night Melancon has given up eight runs. Tonight he gave up two. Some might say that Pirates fans are a bunch of sad pandas right now.
Charlie Morton got the start and he was fabulous. Like, really really really good. He was all over the Padres all night and gave up only two hits in eight innings of work. He struck out a season-high nine batters and while he walked three he was in total control of the game. A little bad luck had the Padres score a run but outside of that Morton was just as good as he has been all season. I really don't think there should be much question about Morton being one of the top options going forward in the playoffs for starting pitching. He's been that good.
What was unfortunate was that Morton threw 99 pitches through eight innings. His season total was 104 pitches which was the only time he went over 100 and really there just wasn't going to be much option of him going back out, nor should there have been. With as good as Melancon has been this year going to him with a one run lead was the right move. The Pirates have been pretty strict with in-game pitch counts and that probably came into play here. I mean I had no problem with this as good as Melancon has been and really I chalked this up as a win when he came on the mound.
The bad part is that I was wrong. Womp womp. Melancon had one of his worst outings of the season when he gave up four hits and two runs while he was on the bump that gave the Padres the lead, a lead they would hold. I think what makes this suck wasn't the fact that Melancon had a bad outing it was just that it happened in this game. The offense was struggling and they go a huge hit from their MVP candidate to take the lead and this was the day that Melancon had an off night. The Pirates lost two games already to an average at best Padres team and a win tonight would have got them back on the right track. It just wasn't meant to be.
I think the bigger problem here is that the Pirates got only three hits. The biggest one of those three was a two out Andrew McCutchen home run that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. It was a huge moment that had the PNC Park crowd buzzing and prompted McCutchen to come out for a curtain call during the MVP chants that were going on. What a player.
Justin Morneau had the other two hits. No other Pirates had a hit and none of them walked. Neil Walker reached base on a strikeout that got past Padres catcher Rene Rivera to set up the McCutchen home run but man, was it another tough offensive performance.
I know it is really easy to bash the offense, and to be honest they deserve it. They have been brutally bad recently and probably a majority of the reason that the Pirates are losing games, especially ones like they are tonight. While losing three straight to the Padres sucks I think this is just a bad streak of baseball. Now, it comes at a really bad time but in a 162 game season there are going to be losing streaks. Right now the Pirates are on a three game losing streak. The offense is going to bounce back and be better. Since the All-Star break the hitters have hit .259/.330/.418 (entering tonight) which is pretty good. Actually they have been one of the better offenses (without pitchers included) in the league. I am going to take that sample size over the five or six game stretch they are on. It was only a week ago that the Pirates were beating Yu Darvish and knocking the ball all over the yard against the Rangers. A stretch of bad hitting games doesn't mean this team is terrible at hitting, because that is totally false.
Getting a win tomorrow was pretty cool. Getting a bunch of hits would be cool too. Here is hoping both of those things happen.