Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pirates Game 9 Recap - Pirates 5, Cubs 4

Man, another game against the Cubs and another one run Pirates win. Seems like these are just the norm anymore. Gerrit Cole threw a really nice game and while the Pirates coughed up a four run lead earlier this series the Cubs did that today and the Pirates came back to win. Just fun stuff.

All the Pirates offensive action took place in the seventh inning when they scored all five runs and had four of their eight hits. While the Pirates got their runs via the solo home run today they bashed a pair of multi-run home runs and weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that was fun. Both home runs went to dead center and were deposited by guys who hit one last night. Travis Snider opened the scoring with a two run bomb to center to cut the Cubs 4-0 lead in half. Then Starling Marte reached and the Cubs (again) pitched around, and walked, Andrew McCutchen to face Pedro Alvarez. Oh man did he make them pay.

It was Alvarez's third home run in two days and he's been on a pretty good tear through nine days. It is still a very small sample and I feel like I am saying this every night, but he's just locked in. Today he did it against lefty James Russell who is the Cubs left handed specialist. I like when Alvarez hits home runs.

Cole was pretty spot on today. His first inning left a lot to be desired but after that he really bucked down and finished the game after six innings giving up five hits, two walks, and 10 strikeouts. Not too many balls were really hit hard off him and while he didn't have his best stuff he was still pretty darn good. Cole gave up three of his runs in the fourth inning when he threw 30 pitches. None of the hits that go through were all that hard and most of them were balls that beat the shift but he gave up a hit to four of the first five hitters in the inning which is never good. I actually thought he might be close to done after that inning but in the fifth and sixth innings he retired the Cubs in order and struck out three. Nice way to keep the game manageable for the offense.

The Pirates somewhat gave the Cubs their first run when Emilio Bonifacio came to the plate. He hit a weak chopper back to Cole who fumbled the ball and let Bonifacio reach on an error. A few pitches later Bonifacio stole second, advanced to third on an awful throw by Tony Sanchez, and then scored when Andrew McCutchen came nowhere close on a throw home. So, to recap, Bonifacio went to steal second and ended up scoring. Not what you want to do.

That fiasco came after the Pirates wasted an opportunity with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third inning when McCutchen and Alvarez both struck out to end the threat. Before the Pirates went off in the seventh inning these two separate incidents were much more responsible for the Pirates impending loss than the horrible call at home plate by Mark Carlson.

I wasn't going to touch on the umpires but Carlson was pretty awful behind the plate. I am not just talking about the blown call when he said Starlin Castros slid under Tony Sanchez's but his strike zone was pretty bad all game. Nothing more needs to be said about this because I think most know that I don't put a lot of stock in umpires really deciding games, and I don't think Carlson did today, but he was bad today.

The offense had a pretty rough one today. When you score five runs and have eight hits I think you will take that most every time but when almost all of that comes in one inning then things weren't as good as you might think. The Pirates struck out 13 times in the game including three by McCutchen and two each by Tony Sanchez and Starling Marte. It seemed to be another one of those offensive days,those will happen, and I guess I should give a bit more credit to Travis Wood who is a really underrated pitcher.

This was the first time the Pirates have won the first three series to start a season since 1992. Another series win and another two wins in three attempts. I will take that every day of the week.

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