Maholm Pitches Well, Bullpen Falls Apart As Pirates Lose To Orioles

Photo Credit: Paul Videla (

After a fantastic start tonight, the Pirates fell apart under the lights at McKechnie Field.  The Buccos were back in Bradenton tonight to take on the Baltimore Orioles, hoping to get back on the winning track following their disappointing loss to the Yankees last night.
The bullpen fell apart against the hot-hitting Orioles, and the Pirates dropped their second straight game, this time by the score of 11-8.
Paul Maholm took the hill for the Pirates, and he put forth a strong, solid performance through his four innings of work.  The Buccos’ left hander gave up one run on four hits without issuing a walk.  The only run came on Vladmir Guerrero’s solo homerun in the second inning.
Unfortunately, Maholm was the only impressive pitcher of the evening for the Pirates.  Joel Hanrahan, the team’s designated closer for the upcoming season, was destroyed by the Orioles offense tonight.  Hanrahan lasted only one inning, giving up four runs on five hits, inflating his ERA to 12.27.  Evan Meek didn’t fair much better, as he gave up three runs of his own an inning later.
The Pirates took the lead in the first inning on Matt Diaz’s sacrifice ground out, scoring Jose Tabata.  After Guerrero’s homerun tied the game, Jason Jaramillo smashed a two-run single to left field, scoring Ronny Cedeno and Gorkys Hernandez.  Jaramillo would then score on Diaz’s double.  At that point, the Pirates looked like they were in control, leading 4-1.
Baltimore made their push in the middle of the game, tallying ten runs in innings five through seven, burying the Buccos.  Ryan Adams led the way for the O’s with four RBI’s, while J.J. Hardy and Craig Tatum added a pair as well.
The Pirates rallied in the eighth inning to make things interesting.  Garrett Jones started the scoring with a pinch-hit single, scoring Pedro Ciriaco.  Corey Wimberly then singled home Josh Fields, cutting the lead at that point to 11-6.  After Dusty Brown’s sacrifice fly scored Andy Marte, John Bowker singled home Jones, bringing the Buccos within three runs at 11-8.  Unfortunately, that would be the last run the Pirates could muster, as the Orioles held on at McKechnie Field for the victory.
Overall, it was a frustrating performance for the Pirates.  Despite the late rally and the flurry of runs scored, this was not the type of game fans should want to see from the Buccos.  Quite simply stated, this is not the kind of game the Pirates can win on a consistent basis.  They don’t have the firepower to win a game played like this, and we saw evidence of that tonight.  If the Pirates are going to be competitive, they have to get strong, consistent pitching from their starting rotation AND from their bullpen.  While Maholm put a nice game together, the bullpen dropped the ball and the team couldn’t recover.  That being said, it was very nice to see Maholm pitch this well tonight. 
The Pirates return to day action tomorrow as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05pm.  The Buccos have now lost four of their last five, which is exactly the type of slump they must avoid once the season starts in three weeks.  They now sit at 6-8 in the Grapefruit League, with games against the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox in the coming days.
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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