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McDonald Struggles Again, Pirates Fall To Astros

Today’s game was very troubling to watch for the Pirates and their fans.  It wasn’t necessarily because they lost 9-5 to the Astros in the final game of their four-game series, or that Houston snapped their 12 game losing streak his afternoon.  No, it wasn’t for any of those reasons…it was because their pitching, James McDonald and the bullpen, struggled mightily today.

James McDonald lost his fifth game of the season today at Minute Maid Park, and for the fourth straight time out on the mound, he battled with control issues.  He lasted only five innings, giving up five runs on six hits and walking seven batters.  The first half of the season, McDonald was one of the best pitchers in the National League, but since then, he has rebuffed to the pitcher of a couple of years ago.

Kevin Correia made his first appearance out of the bullpen, and unfortunately, he didn’t do himself any favors in convincing Clint Hurdle & Co. to plug him back into the rotation.  He gave up four runs on five hits in two innings, including a back-breaking three-run double by Marwin Gonzalez in the seventh inning.  Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a losing effort, lowering his ERA to 2.01 for the season.

Offensively, the Pirates did score five runs, but they weren’t able to cash in on a number of opportunities.  As a team, they left nine runners on base, including Alex Presley’s strikeout with two runners on in the fifth inning and Andrew McCutchen’s pinch-hit fly out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

Garrett Jones hammered a two-run homerun in the fourth inning, while Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez had two hits each to lead the team.  Josh Harrison went 2-2 with two runs scored after entering the game in the seventh.

Despite the loss, the Pirates took three out of four games from the last place Astros.  With the victory, Houston ended a twelve game losing streak, but they have still dropped 25 of their last 28 games overall.  After losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park, it was important for the Pirates to respond in this series, and they certainly did that this weekend.  Still, there’s a part of this Pirates’ fan deep down that feels as though there is a little left to be desired from this week.  The Cubs and Astros are the two worst teams in the N.L. Central, and the Pirates went 4-3 this week against them. And the struggles of McDonald and Correia totally were definitely difficult to watch for Bucs’ fans.

The Bucs will have a chance to get back at the Cubs beginning tomorrow for the first of a three game series at Wrigley Field.  The Cincinnati Reds continue to be red-hot, so the Pirates are going to need to keep pace with them this week before meeting up with them next weekend at Great American Ballpark.

Record vs. Astros: 9-2

Record vs. N.L. Central: 25-16

Record on the Road: 25-27

Overall Record: 58-43



As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!

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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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