Following a difficult series against the Reds, the Buccos were happy to welcome the Colorado Rockies to town, a team that they had just recently taken 2 out of 3 games from as the away team, a rarity for the Pirates this season. This time around, the two teams took the field for a 4 game series at PNC Park.
Thursday, August 5: Pirates newcomer James McDonald was superb in his debut in a Bucco uniform, and timely hitting provided enough run insurance as Pittsburgh took the first game of the series from the Rockies, 5-1.
McDonald was, without a doubt, the story of the night, only giving up 4 hits on his way to 6 scoreless innings. The bullpen, despite giving up a run 8th, was once again solid, limiting Colorado to minimal chances at a comeback. McDonald struck out 8 batters on his way to his first win of the season.
The Pirates jumped on Rockie starter Jeff Francis in the 2nd inning with a pair of homeruns, a solo shot by Garrett Jones and a 2-run job by Ronny Cedeno, which scored Lastings Milledge. RBI singles by Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez in the 3rd and 6th innings helped extend the lead to which the Rockies couldn’t touch.
Friday, August 6: Zach Duke wasn’t quite as successful in the second game of the series against the Rockies. The left-hander gave up 3 runs on 10 hits through 6 innings. The four relievers from the bullpen who made appearances on Friday didn’t fair much better, with the exception of Evan Meek. The Rockies’ offense showed just how explosive they can be, and why they are in the position they are: an outside shot at the N.L. west title. Carlos Gonzalez, in particular, put on a tremendous display, going 3-4 including a HR with 2 RBI.
Pedro Alvarez provided a spark for the Pirates in the 6th inning, hammering a 3-run shot which, at the time, tied the game. Jose Tabata tallied a two-hit evening, raising his average to .302. The rest of the club, slating only a hit here or a hit there, was ineffective from a collective standpoint, and thus, dropped the 2nd game of the series, 6-3. Considering the Rockies accumulated 15 hits, this score could have been A LOT worse.
Saturday, August 7: In one of the more exciting games of the season for the Pirates, Pedro Alvarez’s 3-run walk-off blast in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Buccos a win in the 3rd game of the series against the Rockies.
Alvarez went 3-6 in all on Saturday, while Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata each added 2 hits as well. The Buccos tallied 14 total hits in the game, and after Chris Snyder’s 3-run HR in the 6th, had a 3-1 lead. Garrett Jones then absolutely hammered a pitch into the bleachers in the 7th inning, giving the Buccos a 4-2 lead.
Trailing 5-2 in the top of the 9th, the Rockies tied up the game in dramatic fashion on Ian Stewart’s 3-run homerun, evening the game at 5. The seemingly knockout punch occurred in the top of the 10th, as Todd Helton hammered a 2-run shot, giving the Rockies the lead, and the assumed win, 7-5. But with two men on in the bottom of the 10th, Pedro Alvarez strolled up to the plate and absolutely tattooed a pitch in the right field seats for the first walk-off homerun of his young major league career.
Sunday, August 8: As incredible as Saturday evening’s game was, Sunday afternoon’s performance was that much more frustrating. It seems the Buccos always struggle on Sunday afternoons, and this day was no exception. Pirates’ starter Paul Maholm fell to 7-10 on the season, giving up 6 earned runs on 7 hits through just 2.2 innings. Despite a strong showing from the bullpen, the damage was already done, and the Rockies defeated the Pirates, 8-4, earning a split in the series at PNC Park.
Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, and Ronny Cedeno had a pair of hits each, and by scoring runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings, the Pirates had brought the game back to a respectable score. Unfortunately, too many missed opportunities and stranded runners did the Pirates in, and they were never able to get any closer than that. The Rockies won the game, 8-4.
So the Pirates ended the homestand at 3-4, having split the series with the Rockies and losing 2 out of 3 from the Reds. They now face a very difficult road trip at San Diego and Houston, two places where the Pirates haven’t faired well at all in the past. The Pirates are the worst team in the N.L., and are only two games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in Major League Baseball. As we approach mid-August, it is becoming VERY difficult to watch these games…which, unfortunately, has become a trademark of nearly 2 decades of Pirates’ baseball.
Current Record: 39-72
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!