You Can’t Predict Baseball: Pirates Edition

Looking beyond the box score, the Pirates 5-4 win over the Cubs was actually pretty crazy. Inspired by “You Can’t Predict Baseball,” here’s a look at the unpredictable side of Tuesday night’s contest:

Matt Garza – yes, the Cubs pitcher – hit a two-run double. (Video)

– Garza, fresh off the disabled list and on a strict pitch limit, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

Clint Barmes, who broke up Garza’s no-hitter, is 11-for-33 at the plate in his last 10 games.

Pedro Alvarez drew a walk… with the bases loaded.

Andrew McCutchen made two outs in the same inning.

Travis Snider, who entered Tuesday with two home runs in his last 79 games, hit a pinch-hit grand slam. (GIF)

– Snider’s blast was the Pirates first pinch-hit grand slam since Jason Michaels‘ on June 2nd, 2008, the first at PNC Park since Craig Wilson‘s on July 17th, 2003, and the first go-ahead PH grand salami since Kevin Young‘s on August 31st, 1999.

Darwin Barney started the game with a .192 batting average. He ended at .223, after going 4-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored.

Mark Melancon threw 14 pitches – 13 strikes, 1 ball.

Jason Grilli threw 35 pitches, his most in an outing since August 29th, 2011.

Sometimes, you just can’t predict baseball. Who knows what will happen next?

Go Bucs

Eighty-one more to go

Pittsburgh Skyline PNC Park
A cold, but beautiful night for baseball in the Steel City.

After the dreaded day off after Opening Day, the Pirates hit the field again at PNC Park on a very cold night.  Wandy Rodriguez toed the rubber for the first time this year, and looked extremely sharp on the mound.  He worked around a two-out walk in the first and breezed through the first 3 innings.  There seemed to be a ton of contact to the right side, especially on the fly to Garrett Jones in RF, so it seemed that Wandy’s M.O. was to pitch away to the right-handed batters.  The first of the two hits that he allowed came with no outs in the 3rd inning when Alberto Gonzalez singled.  Pitcher Edwin Jackson bunted him over to second base, but Wandy retired the next two batters and went on to set the Cubs down in order for the next two innings.

Through the 3rd inning, E-Jax pretty much matched Rodriguez.  He was cruising through the Bucs lineup – partially because he was pitching well and partially because some of the Pirates looked awful at the plate.  Finally they were able to break through in the 4th when Garrett Jones led of with just the team’s second hit.  Jones, with the count full on Andrew McCutchen, took off for second as Cutch stroked a double down the line that short hopped the wall and scored to make it 1-0.  Pedro followed by, as he does most of the time, hitting a weak groundball to the right side.  It was at least a productive out as Cutch advanced to third and the Cubs brought the infield in.  Gaby Sanchez grounded to Starlin Castro, who came up empty on the backhand attempt, and brought in a run on the E6.  The Pirates ended up stranding two runners to end the inning, but a 2-0 lead was sufficient for Wandy.

In the 7th, Anthony Rizzo was plunked to start the inning and Alfonso Soriano followed with a line-single to left.  After freezing the next batter to get the first out of the inning, Wandy hit Welington Castillo to load up the bases.  He then got ahead of the next batter, Brent Lillibridge, with two perfect curveballs.  The count eventually filled up, with a few foul balls mixed in, including one that was hit very deep to LF but hooked just enough to stay foul.  The stadium let out one collective exhale as the ball landed, and erupted a few pitches later when Wandy froze Lillibridge with yet another deuce.  Tony Watson then came in as the starter left with 103 pitches thrown and a nice ovation from the crowd that stuck around in the cold.  There was some question as to why Watson came in at that time, but Clint Hurdle explained after the game:

 

 

Watson immediately fell behind 3-0 to Gonzalez but after two called strikes, got him to fly out to Cutch to end the inning.  The Bucs had escaped a bases-loaded-no-outs situation masterfully.

Starling Marte got his 2013 Marte Partay going with an RBI in the 7th after Clint Barmes doubled, making it 3-0.  Watson needed just 10 pitches to cruise through the 8th, setting up Jason Grilli for his first entrance as the Pirates full-time closer.  After the debut of his entrance video, he one-upped Watson by throwing just 9 pitches to get three quick outs and earn his first save.  Bucs win 3-0 and get back to .500 on the year.

If you’re keeping tabs: the first two Pirates starters have combined to give up just 8 hits in the first two games, while the bullpen has been PERFECT.

Here’s Grilli’s entrance video:

Pirates (1-1) – Cubs (1-1)

Win: Rodriguez (1-0)
Loss: Jackson (0-1)
Save: Grilli (1)

BOX SCORE

carlton-banks

Go Bucs

Samardzija spoils Opening Day for Bucs

PNC Park
On a day which saw parts of all four seasons within a few hours, the Bucs took the field for the first time in 2013.  For the second time in three years, the Pirates opened up against the Cubs, this time with A.J. Burnett taking the hill.  After falling behind 2-0 to David DeJesus, A.J. struck him out for the first out of the season.  He got two strikes on Starlin Castro, but hung a curve and surrendered a single to left.  With Anthony Rizzo now up, Burnett tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball in, but he was all over it.  The ball cleared the centerfield seats completely and landed somewhere on the river-walk for a two-run bomb.  A.J. got out of the inning without any more damage, but that would be all the Cubs needed to get the win.

Jeff Samardzija became the second pitcher in a row to dominate the Bucs on Opening Day, throwing 8 innings of 2-hit ball on his way to shutting the offense down.  Starling Marte had a nice first AB of the year and drew a walk to lead off and Garrett Jones reached on an error to start what looked to be a big inning.  Cutch grounded to third but beat out the DP attempt to put runners on the corners with two down.  Samardzija quickly shut down any chance of the Bucs getting on the board by striking the next two batters out swinging.  Between Neil Walker‘s leadoff single in the 2nd inning and Cutch’s double down the line in the 6th, the Notre Dame product retired 14 Pirates in a row.  He whiffed 9 batters in all, making a few look especially foolish.

Burnett was very strong after that mistake in the first, but the offense just couldn’t pick him up.  He struck out the side in the 2nd and got two key K’s with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the 4th to escape a jam.  Of the 16 outs that he recorded in 5.1 innings of work, 10 were strikeouts. Unfortunately his outing ended with Welington Castillo doubling off the right field wall to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.  Burnett exited and Justin Wilson, who was dominant for 1.1 innings of work, entered.  Jared Hughes pitched a quick 1-2-3 8th inning, followed by Mark Melancon, who needed just 9 pitches to get through the 9th.  John McDonald, dubbed the “Prime Minister of Defense” during his time with the Blue Jays, came in as a defensive replacement in the last inning and immediately threw a ball away, but nothing came of it.

When Carlos Marmol entered the game in the final inning, Pirate fans still had an inkling of hope.  After Garrett Jones fanned on what would have been ball four, Cutch was plunked and swiped a base easily.  Pedro stroked a single to center to drive in the first run of 2013 and get the Bucs on the board.  Gaby Sanchez walked and the Cubs brought in LHP James Russell to turn Walker around right-handed.  It worked, and he flew out to shallow right for the second out.  Kyuji Fujikawa then came in for the save with Russell Martin up as the winning-run, and the Japanese rookie won that matchup.  Martin popped out to shallow center, blowing his chance to really earn some fan respect and ending the game.  Final score on Opening Day 2013: Cubs 3, Pirates 1.

A.J. Burnett made a slight mess on the mound:

Knee-jerk reaction after today’s game is that the offense looked pretty horrendous at times, but showed some bright spots with Cutch’s laser and Pedro’s knock.  But whatever – it was a cold April day and the bats clearly weren’t warmed up yet.  We just have to hope this won’t be a repeat of April 2012.

Pirates (0-1) – Cubs (1-0)

Win: Samardzija (1-0)
Loss: Burnett (0-1)
Save: Fujikawa (1)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Monday Morning Links 4/1/13

Pirates:

It’s Opening Day!

Here’s your starting lineup for Game 1 of 162:

1. Starling Marte, LF
2. Garrett Jones, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
6. Neil Walker, 2B
7. Russell Martin, C
8. Clint Barmes, SS
9. A.J. Burnett, P

– Brandon Inge, Jeff Karstens, Francisco Liriano, and Charlie Morton have been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

– Utility man John McDonald will wear number 17.

– Today’s starting pitcher, A.J. Burnett, might retire after this season.

– Pirates season ticket sales increased by 20 percent.

– A total of 93,433 fans passed through the gates of McKechnie Field this spring.

– Dave Brown of Yahoo picks Travis Snider as NL’s breakout hitter and Gerrit Cole as Rookie of the Year.

– There are plenty of new food and drink options on the menu at PNC Park this year.

– Information about the first homestand can be found HERE.

[divider type=””]

Around the League:

– The Houston Astros cruised to a big win in their first game as an American League team. Former Pirate Erik Bedard pitched 3.1 innings of relief, picking up the save.

– Alex Rodriguez will earn more money than the entire Astros roster combined in 2013.

Justin Verlander and Buster Posey got big contract extensions this past weekend.

– Johan Santana’s career is in jeopardy.

– Zack Greinke will make his Dodgers debut on Friday against the Pirates.

[divider type=””]

On tap this week:

Monday

vs. Cubs

1:35 pm

Tuesday

- off -

-

Wednesday

vs. Cubs

7:05 pm

Thursday

vs. Cubs

12:35 pm

Friday

@ Dodgers

10:10 pm

Saturday

@ Dodgers

9:10 pm

Sunday

@ Dodgers

4:10 pm

Go Bucs

Dissecting the Schedule: September

We’ll spend time this week breaking down the Pirates’ 2013 schedule, month by month.

schedule September
(Click to enlarge)

Notes:

– On Sunday, September 1st, all teams will be allowed to expand their rosters. Which minor leaguers will get the call this year?

– The Bucs will go west for a nine-game roadtrip to begin the month. They’ll see divisional foes Milwaukee and St. Louis, as well as interleague opponent Texas.

– They’ll come home for the final homestand of 2013, September 12th – 22nd. The Cubs, Padres, and Reds will visit PNC.

– A concert by Neon Trees will follow the final Saturday home game, September 21st vs. Cincinnati.

– The 2013 season will finish up when the Pirates head to Chicago and then Cincinnati. Final regular season game: Sunday, September 29th at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

– Team the Buccos will see most in September: Chicago  Cubs – four at home, three on the road.

– Maybe – just maybe – the Pirates will break “the streak” at some point in September.

Tickets to any 2013 Pirates game can be purchased HERE.

Previous Editions:
April
May

June
July

August