Two weeks ago, during the game that we'll all remember as the Drew Sutton game, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones had a little moment in the dugout after the Jones home run that gave the Pirates their first lead of the game. Jones's homer came on a ridiculous golf swing and after he and McCutchen rounded the bases, 'Cutch mocked the swing in the dugout with a huge grin on his face while Jones and the rest of the team watching and laughing. The reaction in the dugout felt pretty similar to the one that was coming from Pirate fans at the same thing: "This is incredible! Can you believe this is happening?!"
Today, the Pirates found themselves down 3-0 after three batters and 5-1 before the bottom of the second inning ended and it seemed like no one even blinked. Clint Hurdle probably could've yanked James McDonald at that point (I certainly would've thought about it in his place), but instead he sent Ray Searage out to chew him out. McDonald got the third out in that inning, and the Pirates proceeded to do exactly what a team that can hit a ton of home runs should do in Coors Field against Jeremy Guthrie. Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer to pull the Pirates to within 5-4, Clint Barmes singled in two runs to give the Pirates a lead and chase Guthrie after an error and a bad hop kept the inning alive. When the Rockies tied the game in the fourth, Casey McGehee hit a two run homer and Rod Barajas added an insurance shot in the fifth.
For a four run comeback, it almost felt routine. I mean, it was a fun game to watch/listen to in the way that only Coors Field slugfests can be, but the way the Pirates buzzed through Guthrie and the Rockies bullpen when they needed to this afternoon was businesslike. If you want to say that the Sutton game was the first time that you believed as a Pirate fan that the Pirates could pull off such a comeback, today it almost felt assumed. The Pirates needed a win today given the way they came out of the gate after the break and the pitching matchup and not only would an early four-run deficit not deny them, I'm not even sure that it bothered them.
I still stand by my comments expressing skepticism from earlier this week (link:http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/july-2012/game-88-brewers-4-pirates-1.html). Normally tonight would be a relief, but there are definitely a few questions in this series:*Was this Pirates comeback due to good Pirates offense or bad Rockies pitching? The Rockies pitcher tonight has been having problems all season.
*Even if it was good offense, was it because Coors Field is such a hitter's ballpark?
*The Pirates had the same number of hits as the Rockies in both of their wins of this series. How much of this was luck, and how much due to the long ball? (evidence in similar situations usually suggests more luck than talent) Is this an acceptable performance against a team 20 games below .500?
I am not saying the Pirates are bad or untalented. I'm glad to say that we're at the point that I'm picking apart the Pirates after they win a road series; the expectations have definitely increased. I'm simply saying that I still have worries on whether the Pirates can make a run to the playoffs. Let's hope they prove me wrong!
When you put up a 9 spot with Cutch going 0-fer, you know the Baseball Gods are smiling upon you.
Little concerned about J-Mac, though. That's two terrible starts since the Break. IIRC, he faded really badly down the stretch last year so I hope this is just a bump in the road and not a sign of things to come. I had a hard enough time coming up with a clever rhyme ("AJ and JMac, then go for a snack") for our top two, I really really don't want to have to figure out what rhymes with Karstens.