Game #44: Pirates 1, Astros 0

Pretty uneventful game this Sunday afternoon in the Burgh.  Both pitchers pitched extremely well, and the Bucs and ‘Stros combined for just seven hits.  But in the end, the Pirates pulled out a 1-0 win thanks to a solo home run and took the series.

Jeff Locke and Lucas Harrell put up nearly identical lines.  They both pitched seven innings, giving up a few walks, striking out just four and three batters, respectively, and getting a ton of groundball outs.  The main difference between their lines was that Harrell allowed one more hit than Locke, and gave up a run.  That can be attributed to Pedro Alvarez, who shot an inside pitch down the LF line and tucked it inside the foul pole for a solo home run.  At the time, it was the Bucs’ first hit, but it proved to be the difference.

In the sixth, the Bucs had a great chance to tack on another run after Travis Snider knocked a one-out double into the North Side Notch.  Gaby Sanchez cracked a singled up the middle with two down, but the ball was hit so hard that Snider had no chance to score, and was cut down at the plate after a collision.

With Locke going seven and exiting with the lead, the Hurdle was able to turn to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli for the eighth and ninth, and they were rock solid, as usual.  They eached pitched 1-2-3 innings, helping to wrap up the win in under two and a half hours.

Today’s win for the left-hander pretty much guarantees that he will keep his spot in the rotation once Karstens, McDonald, and Morton come back from the DL.  The starting rotation situation should be interesting to watch unfold, and a difficult decision will have to be made at some point.  But having an abundance of starting pitching really isn’t a bad problem to have, is it?

Pirates (26-18) – Astros (12-32)

Win: Locke (4-1)
Loss: Harrell (3-5)
Save: Grilli (17)



Go Bucs

Game #43: Astros 4, Pirates 2

The Bucs and Astros met again on Saturday night.  A.J. Burnett took the hill on his bobblehead night, squaring off against member of the 2012 Pirates Erik Bedard.

A.J. was dominant through seven innings, giving up just one run.  After the Astros loaded the bases in the first, he got two huge strikeouts to avoid a first-inning implosion.  The lone run he gave up came in the fifth, but only after he allowed a leadoff hit because of a miscommunication between he and Gaby Sanchez.  Had he not given up four walks, he probably could have gone out for another inning, but regardless, he was masterful on the bump.  He left the game in line for a win, with Melancon and Grilli set up follow him.

First-inning doubles by Cutch and Gaby got the Pirates on the board early.  But after the first, Bedard really settled in and matched A.J. inning by inning.  In the sixth, Jose Tabata reached on a bunt single and moved to third on Cutch’s second double of the game.  Two batters later, Tabata was cut down at the plate trying to score on a groudball, but Brandon Inge picked him up.  Inge came through with a two-out knock that brought Cutch home and gave the Bucs the 2-1 lead.

Three different Astros pitched in the seventh, which ending with Jose Cisnero striking Gaby out looking with the bases loaded to keep the score at 2-1.  The Bucco bullpen took over in the eighth, but wasn’t its usual self.  Mark Melancon gave up three singles, with the third bringing home the tying-run.  Jason Grilli came in for the ninth with the game tied, and kept it so, giving the Pirates a chance to walk off for the second straight night.  The Fort and Travis Snider both hit deep flyballs, but not deep enough to send everyone home.  Cisnero also pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the tenth, sending the game to the 11th.

Bryan Morris, beginning his second inning of relief, served up a leadoff double to Jason Castro that missed leaving the park by just a few feet vertically.  After retiring the next batter, Carlos Pena was intentionally walked to set up the force, but a wild pitch negated the move as he advanced to second.  With the infield playing halfway, a ball was bounced to Neil Walker, who fired home.  The play at the plate was close, but the runner was called safe and Houston took a 3-2 lead.  They tacked on one more later in the inning, and Jose Veras set his former team down in order in the bottom of the inning to get the save.

Pirates (25-18) – Astros (12-31)

Win: Cisnero (1-0)
Loss: Morris (1-2)
Save: Veras (6)


Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Astros

preview HOU

Pittsburgh Pirates (24-17) vs. Houston Astros (11-30)

May 17, 2013 – 7:05 pm
May 18, 2013 – 7:05 pm
May 19, 2013 – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA


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Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

Resources: Pirates Depth Chart | Bullpen Workload | Statistics

The Pirates have caught fire over the past week, winning six of their last seven games. They are now 24-17 on the year, their best start since 1992. The Bucs play host to the Houston Astros, who come to PNC Park for the first time as an American League opponent. In honor of Armed Forces Day, the Pirates will show their military appreciation by wearing camouflage jerseys on Friday and Saturday. Giveaways this weekend will also be army-oriented: Free Shirt Friday with a camo design, A.J. Burnett camo jersey bobblehead on Saturday, and Burnett kids replica camo jersey on Sunday.

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Probable Starters:

Game 1 – Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.28) vs. Jordan Lyles (1-1, 8.36)

Game 2 – A.J. Burnett (3-4, 2.73) vs. Erik Bedard (0-2, 6.67)

Game 3 – Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.15) vs. Lucas Harrell (3-4, 5.11)

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Batting Leaders (Among Qualifiers):




Starling Marte (.315)

Jose Altuve (.333)


Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin (6)

Chris Carter (9)


Garrett Jones (23)

Carter (22)


Marte (10)

Altuve (4)

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Pitching Leaders (Among Qualifiers):




Wandy Rodriguez (4)

Bud Norris (4)


A.J. Burnett (72)

Norris (33)


Burnett (2.73)

Norris (4.32)


Jason Grilli (16)

Jose Veras (5)

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Opponent Blogs: Crawfish Boxes, Astros County, Climbing Tal’s Hill

Andrew McCutchen GIF

Player to Watch: Andrew McCutchen, who hit plenty of hard balls during the Milwaukee series but didn’t exactly have the results to show for it. Cutch hit a bunch of “at ’em” balls to the Brew Crew defense, though he did have a clutch walk-off HR on Tuesday and went 2-for-5 on Thursday. With rising temperatures in the ‘Burgh and some weak Houston pitching on the mound, the ball could carry well at PNC this weekend. McCutchen is 8-for-13 with three doubles and four RBI in his career vs. Jordan Lyles, Houston’s starter on Friday night. Hopefully Cutch can break out this series and help get the Pirates three victories.

Go Bucs

Last visit to Houston for a while

The Bucs stopped some of the bleeding today with an impressive 8-1 win over the Astros. They mashed out 18 hits in the last NL matchup between the two teams, and came one win closer to reached that elusive 82nd.

It was a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings.  A.J. Burnett did his thing, going eight innings while giving up just four hits.  He struck out 11 and made just one mistake – a solo homer to Scott Moore that would be the only run the Astros could get.  A.J. earned his first win since the “STFD game” on August 16th, and improved his record to 16-8.

It took four innings to break through against Jordan Lyles, but once they got to him in the fifth, the Bucs went off.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, and Gaby Sanchez got plunked to drive in the first run of the game.  Jose Tabata walked to plate another run, and Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas both singled in runs to make it 4-0.  The Pirates left the bases loaded in the fifth, but they weren’t done scoring.  Cutch doubled in Josh Harrison, who collected four hits, to put the Bucs up 5-0.  Pedro, Jose, and A.J. each picked up RBIs in the eighth to really put the game out of reach.  A.J. cruised with the big lead, and after his day was done, Chad Qualls pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the win.

It’ll be weird not seeing the Astros anymore, or at least not as often.  It’s nice to leave Houston with a big win.  Just ten more games left in the season, and although the playoffs are pretty much out of the picture, a winning season is still obtainable.  The Pirates will have to go 7-3 in their remaining games.  Gotta stay hopeful.

Pirates (75-77) – Astros (50-103)

Win: Burnett (16-8)
Loss: Lyles (4-12)


Go Bucs

Another day, another loss

Despite a productive start from Kevin Correia, the Pirates couldn’t get anything going on offense and dropped yet another game.

The Astros took an early 1-0 lead in the first (surprising, huh?) but the Bucs got it right back.  Gaby Sanchez tied the game with a leadoff homer in the second, and it stayed that way for a while.  Correia settled in for the next five innings, and Dallas Keuchel cruised.

That all ended in the seventh when KC gave up a leadoff single that dropped in between three defenders.  Clint Barmes booted an easy double-play ball, and the inevitable happened next.  Jason Castro came to the plate with the intention of bunting, but after the count got to 2-1, he was swinging away.  He took Correia deep to RF for a three-run bomb, and that was all she wrote.  A six-inning-nine-strikeout performance by Correia was spoiled.  Keuchel held the Bucs to four hits in seven innings, and the back of the bullpen closed it out, with Wilton Lopez getting the save.

Pitt won big.  Go Steelers.

Pirates (74-77) – Astros (50-102)

Win: Keuchel (3-7)
Loss: Correia (11-10)
Save: Lopez


Go Bucs