It's awfully late (or early, whatever), so let's limit this recap to this:
Jose Tabata got on base four times, scored twice, and drove in three runs. Those three runs were the bases-loaded double/exclamation point that turned a 3-3 game in the top of the fifth inning into a route. Andrew McCutchen had two hits and drew two walks. Pedro Alvarez had two doubles and two RBIs, and he would've doubled that RBI total if both of is doubles hadn't bounced over the fence. Garrett Jones and Jordy Mercer homered.Every Pirates starter drove in a run except for Neil Walker and Jeff Locke.
And Jeff Locke. That's why this one isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Locke was struggling enough that I thought that you could've made a case to pull him after the third inning. He came out for the fourth with a 3-1 lead and that inning nearly ended with the Giants ahead, if not for a diving grab of a line drive by Gaby Sanchez. He was bad enough in the third and the fourth that Clint Hurdle pulled him after four innings, even though he had a seven-run lead. He was good enough for the Pirates to win tonight, but that mostly had to do with the Pirates' offense and the poor Giants' pitching. I honestly think that the Pirates should think about plugging either Jeanmar Gomez (who was excellent tonight in three innings of near-perfect releif work, allowing just one walk) or Brandon Cumpton in for a start the next time through the rotation.
Locke is having trouble locating pitches. Particularly against righties, too much lands outside, failing to come back over the plate and then he overcompensates a bit and can leave balls over the plate. THAT SAID, he had some really terrible ground ball luck in the 4th. The Pill single that set up the two runs in the fourth went about 20 feet despite a swing for the fences and he was equally unlucky that Blanco didn't hit the ball hard enough to get a DP before Moscoso's AB.
As fortunate as he was that Sanchez caught the liner to end the inning, he was unlucky to have multiple baserunners at all.
After Cutch was thrown out at home and then the Giants came back to tie the game, I started thinking about how this game felt awfully similar to many of our games lately. Early Pirate runs put a smile to my face, I feel like this game is going to be different, then nothing is added on, the other team ties it, and we ultimately lose.
Is this trend real, or just selective editing on the part of my memory? If real, is there a reason behind it, such as opposing pitchers adjustments after the first time through the lineup? I was set to dig through the numbers, then the Pirates scored seven in the fifth inning, and a big smile came to my face, and I decided things were different now, that my search probably would have been inconclusive anyway, and I went to bed.
In summary, more runs equal better sleep.
I was really hoping Wandy would come back because both Locke and Cole seem to be at the end of their ropes. With a visit to Dr. Andrews (the four worst words in baseball) looming, it looks like he's done for the year. Cumpton had that great spot start against the Cards and Gomez has pitched well all year but I'm not sure I feel comfortable throwing either one into the rotation on a regular basis.
I know Huntington seems loathe to pull the trigger on a trade but I'd feel a lot better if he looked into the Angels about Jason Vargas or even, *shudder*, Houston about Eric Bedard. At this point, I trust either of them to give us 7-8 mediocre starts more than I trust Locke.
Last night the radio crew said he had a .120 batting average against with runners in scoring position pre-All Star Break. Those numbers were never sustainable. Let's face it: he was always overperforming, and bound to come down at some point.
It was obvious to everyone except Huntington and Hurdle at least two starts ago that Locke needs to be shut down for the year. Something is very wrong with him, and whatever it is, continuing to run him out there to get lit up like a movie marquee every fifth day is only going to make it worse.
Still, as you had said, winning the Locke-Cain matchup was huge and makes it a hell of a lot easier to at least earn a split and hopefully take three of four.
Even Clint Hurdle is smart enough to give Pedro Alvarez a day off when Madison Bumgarner takes the mound, right? Because if Alvarez batted 100 times against Bumgarner he would strike out 90 times. I feel like this is a simple enough fact that even the manager of a major league baseball team should be expected to know it.