3-2 losses are always tough to stomach. What more could the Pirates have done? James McDonald was way less than sharp in his season debut, walking four hitters and working deep into a ton of counts. He got pulled after 87 pitches and 4 2/3 innings. As I wrote earlier, it's not really surprising to see him start slow given his injury and missed time, but if he was sharp tonight he probably could've given the Cardinals fits.
The bullpen will take the loss, but they were pretty sharp in relief of McDonald tonight; the only run came after Garrett Olson got ahead of Colby Rasmus 0-2, split the zone with a beautiful pitch that was somehow called ball 1, and then Rasmus singled to move Ryan Theriot to second. Chris Resop came in and gave up a seeing-eye single to Albert Pujols and that was the difference. It would be easy to lay blame on home plate ump Kerwin Danley tonight; not only did his small zone hurt the Pirate bullpen in the seventh, he called a seemingly huge strike zone against Pirate hitters later on in the game.
But the reality is that when you're facing a converted reliever in his first start ever, you can't lay the blame on the ump when you only score two runs. The Bucs charged out to a two-run lead on Lyle Overbay's first inning homer and then did zilch against Kyle McClellan. Miguel Batista relieved him and looked awfully wild, but the Pirates let him cruise through two innings without every really working the count or threatening against him. The Pirates strike out a lot, but that's fine on nights they draw work counts to draw walks or string together a ton of hits the way they did against the Cubs on Sunday. They didn't do either today, and that's why they lost.
I blame the ump a little. Look at <a href="/http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=4&day=5&year=2011&game=gid_2011_04_05_pitmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&prevGame=gid_2011_04_06_pitmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&prevDate=45">this pitchfx graph</a>; it's hard to work the count when the ump is calling strikes six inches outside. And check those two balls called for Cards RHH right over the plate.
And yeah, those are only two pitches (each), but it has a cumulative effect; if the umpire is calling that kind of strike you have to swing at <i>everything</i>. Which might be why Bowker and Cedeno wound up flying out on full-count pitches rather than drawing walks on Batista, and why Walker got burned looking against him. If Danley calls a consistent game, maybe the Pirates have the bases loaded with one out and Walker up in the eighth.
^ Amen to this. I was shocked Clint Hurdle wasn't out there arguing at least half of those strikeouts late in the game. Pat's point still stands though, allowing McClellan to look like Cliff Lee in his first ever MLB start, is not the way to win a game regardless of the home plate umpires inconsistency.
I was stunned Olson didn't get the strike 3 call on Rasmus. The home plate ump seemed to be all over the place. the last 2 strikeouts from Walker came on pitches that looked to be at least a foot outside the plate. It's frustrating to see Walker lay off of pitches that are obvious balls, and get the K.
@mattw This is all we got for now, Matt: http://support.livefyre.com/customer/portal/articles/21708-how-do-i-add-video-or-pictures-to-my-post-
@mattw I have no idea. I thought there was supposed to be a bar to do bold/italics/links with these comments, but they haven't been around for sometime. I'm pretty certain that HTML won't work (obviously) so maybe just put the link in parenthesis for now while I try to figure it out?
I know these comments are a bit buggy from time to time, but they're really a huge upgrade and step in the right direction from what we had before.
@whygavs OK. My technique of pretending that I could do HTML actually worked out OK.