by Zane Heiple
|Photo By Getty Images|
Tonight was one of those nights for the Pittsburgh Pirates that have become few and far between this year, but nonetheless still painful to watch. While it may only be July, some of us feel that we can’t take games too seriously this time of year, but this team still needs to put games away against a team with the caliber of play as the Houston Astros.
The Pirates did have some great plays on defense and collected three solo home runs from Neil Walker, Lyle Overbay, and Brandon Wood. The offense started out slow on the night as they stranded five base runners in the first two innings and while the box score showed eleven hits on the night, seven of those came from Walker and Mike McKenry.
The defense for Pittsburgh seemed sloppy all night. In the second inning Garrett Jones had trouble getting to a fly ball hit by Jason Michaels, fortunately that did not cause any damage. The damage did come one batter later when McKendry and Maholm appeared to get a pitch crossed up and the ball went to the back stop, allowing Carlos Lee to score. McKendry appeared to be in position to catch the ball, and then looked like he could have made a throw to make it interesting at home plate. McKendry then appeared to have a shot at throwing out Hunter Pence at third base in the eighth inning, but he either lost his grip on the ball or was not comfortable throwing to Brandon Wood as he was running to get in position for the throw. Pence would then score the tying run on a Brett Wallace fielder’s choice. There was a play at the plate and after watching all the replays, the call could have gone either way.
Paul Maholm, who started for the Buccos, had a below average start from what we are used to seeing from him in 2011. He would leave the game after only going five innings allowing three runs on nine hits, to go with three strikeouts and one walk. He left the game with a one run lead and early on it looked like it might hold up, as Daniel McCutchen and Chris Resop set down all three batters they faced. The problem came in the eighth when Jose Veras came to the mound. He would walk the leadoff man and it went downhill from there as the Astros put three runs on the board and would win 6-4.
Tonights game was roller coaster with a bad ending. I am confident that Pittsburgh will play better tomorrow, since they seem to save their worst outings for when Maholm is on the hill. While it may not be a must win tomorrow, it is an important game. Kevin Correia is on the hill for the Pirates, while Wandy Rodriguez will pitch for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05.
Record vs. Astros: 8-3
Record vs. N.L. Central: 21-13
Road Record: 25-21
Overall Record: 48-44
Let’s Go Bucs!!!