Tuesday, April 03, 2007

04/02/2007 Pirates 4 - Astros 2

Xavier Nady after his game-tying 9th inning homerun last night

The Pirates desperately wanted to start 2007 off on a good note, and they did just that, with an exciting come-from-behind victory in Houston last night. Jason Bay's 2-run homerun in the top of the 10th inning put the Bucs ahead to stay.

The beginning of the game was encouraging, as Chris Duffy drew a walk without swinging. Jack Wilson also seemed focused at the plate, patiently fouling off several pitches before finally flying out. Not unexpectedly, the inning produced zero runs.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Pirates' defense began flexing its muscles. After two outs, Luke Scott singled to center. When he attempted to stretch his hit into two bases, Chris Duffy fired a dart and nailed him for the third out. The next inning, the defense showed up again. With two on and one out, Jose Bautista picked a tough hop out of the dirt and teamed with Jose Castillo to turn a slick 5-4-3 double play to end the threat. After a Luke Scott homerun gave the Astros a 2-0 lead in the 5th, Chris Burke attempted to score from second base on a one-out single by Roy Oswalt. Again, a Chris Duffy laser beam cut down the runner. In the 6th, with two on and nobody out, Jose Castillo showed a flash of his potential. He laid out to snare a shot off the bat of Carlos Lee, and made the easy flip to Jack Wilson for the double play. The Pirates' defense saved a few runs in this game.

All of this time, the Pirates' offense was being completely shut down by Oswalt. The highlight through seven innings was a rally-killing double play off the bat of Jason Bay. In the top of the 8th, Nate McLouth stepped to the plate. He was pinch-hitting for Zach Duke, who had pitched a solid game. McLouth came up big, with a legitimate bomb over the left-center field fence.

Brad Lidge came in to shut the door in the 9th. After two easy outs, Xavier Nady came to the plate. With the Houston faithful ready to celebrate a victory, Nady launched the first pitch into the leftfield seats to tie the game. The crowd was immediately silenced, as the Pirates' dugout erupted into euphoria.

In the 10th, Jack Wilson reached on his 18th infield single of the game. Jason Bay followed with his first jack of the season. Carlos Lee could only watch. Salomon Torres came on and pitched a routine 1-2-3 inning for his first save of the season.

Game Notes
  • The defense looked sharp last night. The success of the team defense could be a large factor in whether the Pirates have any success in 2007. The starting pitchers' BABIP was far too high in 2006. I was encouraged with the first game.

  • How about McLouth and Nady coming up big? It was assumed throughout the offseason that neither would hit for much power. They are both looking to silence some critics this season.

  • The offense looked feeble against Oswalt. It will be interesting to see whether it was a case of Oswalt being that good or the Pirates being that bad. It was nice to see the team come up big in some crucial situations, though.

  • That's a nice start to the season. Hopefully, the team can get on a little roll early on.

  • 1-0

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