I don't really know what else to say here other than this really, obviously was not the Pirates' night. It was apparent from the second inning onwards that Francisco Liriano had absolutely nothing tonight, but he was allowed to stay out on the mound until the Brewers had seven runs. This is a larger and more philosophical debate for another day (and I want to be clear that I'm not really blaming Hurdle for leaving Liriano out on the mound too long, necessarily, because pretty much every manager in baseball will stick with his ace through the third inning unless things get apocalyptically ugly), but nights like tonight are really hard to watch when it becomes apparent that a pitcher doesn't have it, but he has to stay out on the mound until he gives up the requisite number of runs to be removed. Liriano came out dealing in the first, but he was almost equally as flat in the second and he was lucky to escape with only the two runs scored. In the third, it seemed obvious after Aramis Ramirez's double that leaving him on the mound was tantamount to throwing in the towel, but he faced five more batters and allowed two more runs. There's no easy answer here, of course, because some nights guys look absolutely brutal early on and settle in and are fine, but the third inning tonight was just awful to watch almost from the outset and it's frustrating that those sorts of innings seem impossible to avoid once they begin.
In any case, even though the Pirates were down 7-2 at that point, they had plenty of opportunities to get back into the game.In the fifth, Andrew McCutchen homered and Wily Peralta followed that up with something that looked an awful lot like throwing at Justin Morneau's head, which put Morneau on first with no outs. Somehow, though, Morneau was thrown out at the plate on Marlon Byrd's double into the left-center gap that both split the outfielders and took it's sweet old time bouncing to the fence. If Morneau scores, the Pirates are down 7-4 with a runner on third and nobody out. Instead, Morneau was thrown out and Byrd was stranded at third. In the seventh, Neil Walker lead off with a double, McCutchen walked, and Pedro Alvarez was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases. The Pirates failed to score.
A good rule of thumb is that if your starter gives up seven runs and you leave 12 runners on base with only two hits in scoring position, chances are awfully low that you did not win. These sorts of games happen from time to time in baseball, of course, but they get a little tougher to stomach when they happen in September. The Cardinals just finished up a 16-inning win against the Reds, which means that they've cut the Pirates lead to one game and they can cut it to a 1/2 game tomorrow. If that happens, this weekend is going to be stressful.
This wasn't all on Liriano, though. HR/HBP/2B with no outs yields one run? Yikes. I didn't know Morneau was that slow. (In all fairness I thought he was going to score, nice set of relays by the Brewers.) And Alvarez not producing with a runner on 3rd twice? Oh, man. I know, it comes with the territory, but... And the errors. The error at 2nd, Liriano's fumbled bunt, the fumbled comebacker double play/out at home choice, the misplayed doubled-off-first from Byrd to Walker, the wild pitch through Buck's 5 hole...
The Bucs had lots and lots of opportunities to make this a football score shootout. A break here and a break there and it's 10-7, or 9-6, something like that, or 7-6, or 7-7 going into extras.
All in all, I'd like to chalk this one up to "Bucs Play Like Crap, Lose". And it happens. Look at the Red Sox/Tigers score this morning. There's a lot of promise to this lineup, and I really think that we'll see more games like this turn that way from here on out
The runs given up seemed inevitable when Liriano was facing a nearly all right handed line up and didn’t have great stuff.I was in the “save the bull pen for another day” camp until the wild pitch that allowed another run.I was a little more disheartened by the fact that we had potential big innings at the plate in both the second and third inning but only scored one run each.On the good side, the Cardinals/Reds game went 16 innings.I was pretty jacked when the Reds got a run in the bottom of the 14th to extend the game.
BTW, in the previous game where the losing streak ended, did anyone notice a guy calling the pitches from the stands late in the game?Attendance was about non-existent except for Pirate fans and late in the game a guy would call out whether the Brewers catcher was setting up for an inside pitch or an outside pitch.I was wondering if the Pirates batters could hear him and if they’d trust the shout outs of someone in the stands.However, I did notice that the catcher started setting up very late so the pitch was nearly to the plate by the time the guy could shout out the location.
@TomBrenholts As Morneau was rounding third I was yelling, "Great Sid Bream's Ghost! Pick up the pace man!".
Alvarez drives me nuts. 32 HRs but .235 BA. I love him! I hate him! I love him! I hate him! Ack, ack, ack.
I also take solace from the Reds bunting with two outs in the bottom of the 15th. Let's hope they keep up that kind of strategery when we play them.
Damn tablet. Thought I'd lost that in editing!
"... more games turn into shootouts than stall at 3 runs from here until the end of September."