The Pirates defeated the Cubs 3-2 last night at PNC Park. Zach Duke settled down after a rocky start to throw 6.2 innings, allowing only 2 runs. Jason Bay provided the big blow with a tie-breaking homerun in the 8th, and Adam LaRoche and Ronny Paulino added RBI hits. Matt Capps and Jonah Bayliss pitched superbly in relief and Salomon Torres retired Derrek Lee to finish the game. The Pirates finished the month of April with a 12-12 record. My thoughts on this game:
- Jonah Bayliss has been excellent this season. He entered this game with the bases loaded in the top of the 7th, two outs, a 2-1 Cubs lead and Aramis Ramirez at the plate. Ramirez was 2 for 3 to that point, and the game was hanging in the balance. But Bayliss calmly induced a fly ball to left and the inning was over. Bayliss has now stranded every runner he has inherited this season. And of course, Capps had his usual easy 8th inning.
- After the Cubs scored their second run to take a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning, a man sitting a few seats from me screamed for the bullpen. I could only shake my head at such idiocy. It brought me great satisfaction to see Duke gather himself and hold the Cubs scoreless the rest of the way. Of course, this man had left his seat for good in the 4th. I hope he was far from the park when the final out of this win was recorded.
- As Jason Bay stepped to the plate in the 8th inning, a friend of mine with whom I was sitting remarked, "Jason Bay always bats cleanup, but there's never anybody on base for him." I started to agree with my friend, who is nine years old by the way, and explain that for some reason Jim Tracy does not believe in high on-base percentage players at the top of the lineup. I never got the words out though, as Bay deposited the next pitch into the first row of the right-center field seats. But it was still an excellent observation. (EDIT: This is not a knock on Wilson or Duffy, as each has done a decent job of reaching base this season. It is Tracy's philosophy that I am criticizing.)
- It was nice to see Bay hit a homerun to right field. He has good power that way, and should attempt to utilize it more. That might help cut down on some of the K's on outside breaking stuff.
- I did not have a perfect view from section 103, but Rich Hill's curveball must have been breaking about eight feet. Pirate left-handers did not have a chance when he threw it.