Select Page
By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Pirates limped their way into the final game against the Florida Marlins tonight, having been outscored 12-0 in the first pair of games of the series.  This guaranteed the Pirates’ first road series loss of the season, and they faced their first road series sweep as they took the field tonight.
Pittsburgh sent James McDonald to the hill, hoping to improve from his earlier starts this season.  If the Buccos were going to win the game tonight and avoid the sweep in the series, they would need a strong start from McDonald, to keep the game close throughout, and get timely hits with runners in scoring position.  None of these happened tonight for the Buccos, and the Marlins completed the sweep with a 9-5 victory in the final game of the series.
Unfortunately, this was McDonald’s worst start of the season thus far.  After a strong first inning, he ran into serious trouble in the second.  After a pair of walks and a single, the Marlins had the bases loaded as Scott Cousins walked to the plate, hammering a McDonald fastball over the wall in deep right center.  The grand slam was the first homerun of Cousins’ career, and gave the Marlins an early 4-1 lead.  Hanley Ramirez’s sacrifice ground out, scoring pitcher Chris Volstad, further padded the lead for the fish at 5-1.
The nightmare continued for McDonald the very next inning, as Brett Hayes crushed a three-run homer to deep left, breaking the game wide open, 8-1.  James lasted only three innings, giving up eight runs on six hits, while issuing three walks and giving up two homeruns, including a grand slam and a three-run shot.  McDonald fell to 0-2 with the loss, and his ERA sits at 10.12.
The Buccos attempted to get back into the game in the sixth inning.  After falling behind 9-2, Pedro Alvarez smacked a single down the line to third base, scoring Lyle Overbay.  Chris Snyder followed that up with a single of his own to left field, allowing Neil Walker to cross the plate.  With the bases loaded, Josh Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, scoring Garrett Jones and bringing the game to within four runs.  Rodriguez tallied his first Major League hit in the fifth inning, as well as his first RBI in the sixth.
Pittsburgh had a chance to make the game much tighter in the sixth with the bases loaded and only one out, but Matt Diaz’s ground ball up the middle was stabbed out of the air by Ramirez and flipped around the diamond for an inning-ending double play.  It would be the last time the Pirates threatened all night.
After being silent the first two games, the Pirates’ offense did come alive somewhat.  Alvarez hit his first homerun of the season in second inning.  The round-tripper was one of three hits for the Pirates’ third baseman.  Pedro was the only Bucco with a multi-hit evening.  Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker were a combined 0-12 in the game.
This was a series to forget for the Pirates.  After a tremendous series in Cincinnati, the Buccos had set themselves up for another successful road trip and a chance to build on their impressive record away from PNC Park.  Unfortunately, starting pitching let them down in this three-game series, something that we were all worried about coming into the season.  The Marlins outscored the Pirates 21-5 in the three games.
With the loss, the Pirates fell to 8-11 on the season.  They return to Pittsburgh tomorrow for the start of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park.  The home stand will also feature a series against the World Champion San Francisco Giants next week.  Jeff Karstens is expected to make the start tomorrow against the Nationals.
Record Vs. Marlins: 0-3
Record Vs. N.L. East: 0-3
Record On The Road: 7-6
Overall Record: 8-11
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!