The Pirates entered their 3-game weekend series against the Cleveland Indians in desperate need of a win. They began this series winless in interleague play, and with a difficult road trip approaching in the near future, this was the series to get back on track…against a struggling Indians team who seems to make ALMOST as many simple mistakes as our beloved Buccos.
Friday, June 18: The Pirates and Indians played into a pitchers’ dual on Friday night, up until the 7th inning anyway. Cleveland tallied 4 runs in the inning, which proved to be enough for them to take game 1 of the series and extended the Pirates current losing streak to a ridiculously awful 12 games.
Jason Donald slated an RBI single to give the Indians the initial lead, and was followed up by 2 singles and a double, scoring 4 runs in all, breaking the game open against Paul Maholm, who suffered his 5th loss on the season. The Pirates did respond in the bottom of that same inning. With the bases full of Buccos and no outs, Ryan Church blasted a bases-clearing double to left-center, which brought the Pirates to within a run. But as usual, the Buccos were unable to bring Church around to score, and wasted opportunities ended up stranding him at second, and they would eventually lose the game.
Saturday, June 19: FINALLY! The Pittsburgh Pirates have won a baseball game! For the first time since June 5, the Buccos tally up a victory, beating the Indians 6-4 and tying the series, setting up a rubber match at PNC Park on Sunday.
Lastings Milledge, a day after unexpectedly sitting out the game, went 3-4 with 4 RBI, including a triple, double, and single. Pedro Alvarez also tallied his first hit and RBI as a major leaguer in the 5th inning with a ground rule double to left field, scoring Milledge.
Jeff Karstens, once again, managed the game adequately, while not shutting down the opposition, certainly giving his team a chance to win the game. And that’s exactly what they did. Karstens’ final line read 5.1 innings pitched, 4 runs on 6 hits, while not surrendering a walk and striking out a pair. Andrew McCutchen went 2-2 as well as being walked 3 times and scoring 4 runs on the night. A much needed victory for the Pirates on Saturday, while also giving them a chance to finally win a series again.
Sunday, June 20: Bobby Crosby went 3-3, Garrett Jones tallied 2 more hits and an RBI, and Brad Lincoln pitched a decently solid game as the Pirates took the rubber match against the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, winning the series and taking their second straight game at PNC Park.
Starter Lincoln lasted 6 innings, while giving up 3 runs on 8 hits, but AGAIN, kept the game close and manageable, which enabled the offense to come around and score some much needed runs against the Indians’ bullpen. Pedro Alvarez smacked a sacrifice fly to right in the 8th inning, scoring Andrew McCutchen and giving the Pirates the lead. Crosby followed that up with a single to shallow center, scoring Garrett Jones and giving the Buccos some breathing room. This proved to be more than enough for closer Octavio Dotel, who closed the door on the Indians’ bats and ending the series at PNC Park with a victory.
The Pirates earned a winning series against the Cleveland Indians, something they desperately needed before heading out west for a very difficult road trip. The Pirates struggle out west, they are dismal on the road, and they are usually dominated in interleague play. Unfortunately, these are all factors as they board the plane tonight for trips out to take on the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics for a 6-game stretch against the American League, before returning to some divisional action against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Those 3 series will wrap up what, so far, as been an absolutely horrible month for the Pirates. They still have 9 games remaining, and even an unrealistic optimist couldn’t predict them finishing these games any higher than .500.
Current Record: 25-44
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!