Once again, it was a great night for some Bucco baseball in the city of Pittsburgh.
The umpires, including Jim Joyce, emerging from the tunnel:
James McDonald was on the bump for the Pirates tonight and had another great start:
First pitch was delayed a few minutes because of an extended meeting between managers at the plate. The first inning went quickly, with only one baserunner combined. James McDonald gave up back to back singles to start the second, and got Justin Maxwell to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Instead of throwing home to prevent the run, Pedro went for the double play instead. A smart baseball move, but when you consider that the Pirates have trouble scoring more than 2 runs a game, every run the opposition scores is critical.
The Pirates went down 1-2-3 in the first 3 innings, striking out 5 times. Jose Tabata started the fourth with a triple off of the Clemente Wall, just missing a cheap homer into the short porch.
Nate McLouth came up, just needing to make solid contact to get Tabata home. He instead hit a jam shot pop-up to third, but the meat of the lineup was coming up. After getting two strikes, Andrew McCutchen was just trying to make contact, and slapped a ground ball to short. As Bud Norris wound up to pitch, the Astros third baseman and shortstop charged, and Tabata broke for the plate on contact. Jed Lowrie was able to gun him down at the plate. Cutch then got thrown out trying to steal second the next batter.
The Bucs had a perfect chance to score in the fifth, still down 1-0. Rod Barajas led off with a double into the notch, and Clint Barmes slapped a single to right. With runners on the corners, McDonald put down a sac bunt. As Bud Norris fielded it, he looked towards Barajas at third to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere. He botched the play, and JMac was safe at first to load the bases with the top of the lineup due up. Tabata worked the count full, but whiffed on a fastball for the first out. McLouth popped into the infield fly rule, and Cutch struck out swinging. The fans weren’t happy, and rightly so. The Pirates are struggling to score runs as it is. With the bases loaded, no outs, and the top of the lineup coming to the plate, at least 2 runs have to score. If they don’t start cashing in on chances like this, they’ll continue to be the worst offense in the league.
McDonald went 8 innings, and the last chance the Pirates had to score was in the bottom half. Rod Barajas lead off with a single up the middle to get his first multi-hit game since August of 2011. Josh Harrison pinch ran for him, and got picked off. There wasn’t another baserunner for the Pirates, and they went on to lose 1-0.
– Team president Frank Coonelly sat next to us for a few minutes before being kicked out by those who had those seats:
– There weren’t any RBI in tonight’s game.
– McDonald went 8 innings, giving up just 4 hits and striking out 8
– Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless inning.
– The free shirt tonight was pretty cool, possibly the best so far.
– Pedro Alvarez at third base
Star of the Game: James McDonald. Gotta give it to JMac. Even though he got the loss, he pitched a heck of a game and absolutely deserved to win.
Goat of the Game: The Pirates lineup. Self-explanatory, gotta score runs when you get the chance.
Pirates (14-18) – Astros (15-17)
Win: Norris (3-1)
Loss: McDonald (2-2)
Save: Brett Myers (9)