Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pirates erase late deficit, defeat Giants

Play of the game - Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

This game was progressing as one might expect. Barry Bonds had homered. Matt Morris could not keep Rajai Davis off the bases, allowing him to score four runs. The Pirates were close early in the game, but slowly the Giants' lead grew to 6-2. Now it was the top of the eighth, and it was easy to see how the final two innings would proceed. The Pirates’ offense would go down quietly, and the only relevant question remaining would be whether the bullpen would let things get out of control.

But the Pirates did not concede. Adam LaRoche, Jason Bay, Ryan Doumit and Ronny Paulino singled in succession to start the eighth inning. After a Jack Wilson sacrifice fly, the Giants’ lead was suddenly only 6-5. A gimpy Xavier Nady pinch-hit and reached on an error. Nate McLouth ripped a double off the wall in right and the game was tied. Jose Bautista deflated Pirate fans everywhere when he made his 33rd unproductive out of the game. But Freddy Sanchez poked a single to center on the first pitch he saw, and the Pirates had taken an 8-6 lead.

The Giants had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. With one run in, Paulino’s lame attempt to block a ball in the dirt moved runners to second and third with one out. Red-hot Rajai Davis was at the plate with the tying run at third. The stage was set for Davis to fittingly burn his former team. But Bautista made a fabulous play on Davis’ slow chopper to third, cutting down the run at the plate. Salomon Torres struck out Omar Vizquel, and the Pirates went to the ninth with the lead.

With one on in the ninth, Ryan Klesko was at the plate representing the winning run. I cringed as Matt Capps grooved the first pitch right down the middle. But the ball had just enough movement on it that Klesko popped it straight up in the air for the second out. Capps struck out Bengie Molina and the game was over. Pirates win 8-7.

This was a solid win for the Bucs, one that sends you to bed at 2 AM with a smile on your face. Some thoughts:

  • Matt Morris was lousy. He walked five guys, did not strike out a batter, and was terrorized all night by Rajai Davis. Very appropriate.
  • Bonds and Davis killed us at the plate in this game, but each humorously misplayed fly balls as well. Watching those ugly attempts put a smile on my face, if only for a moment.
  • Huge hit by Sanchez in the eighth. The Giants had just taken some momentum when Bautista’s groundout failed to score a run, but Freddy wasted no time in giving the Bucs the lead.
  • It was nice to see Bautista make the game-saving play at third in the bottom of that inning. He was clearly frustrated after failing to produce a run during the Pirate rally, and immediately making up for it in the field likely allowed him to rest a bit easier last night. Also, Paulino made a great tag on the play. This was immediately after he allowed a wild pitch to skip past him.
  • I guess Xavier Nady is not going on the DL. It has been over a week since he re-injured his hamstring, and he has been limited to three pinch-hit appearances during that period. With the team already down to four bench players, this really limits what Jim Tracy can do with his lineup. I have no idea why the Pirates like to keep injured players on the active roster for extended periods, regardless of whether they are able to play. Wait, maybe it is because Brad Eldred is the only uninjured position player available on the 40-man roster. Who is in charge around here?
  • Steve Pearce went 2 for 4 with a double yesterday for Triple-A Indianapolis. He is now hitting .375/.444/.725 with four home runs in 40 at-bats with the Indians. He is clearly on pace to reach Pittsburgh very soon.
Tony Armas (6.31 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) goes against Tim Lincecum (3.59 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) early this evening. Armas very well may be auditioning for a job. First pitch is at 3:55 PM.

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