There are some series in which a casual baseball fan would be able to tell that the Pittsburgh Pirates are completely overmatched and best we can hope for is for them to be competitive. There are other series, however, such as their most recent one against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, in which the Pirates could have and most likely SHOULD have won all three games but unfortunately, didn’t tally a single victory.
Friday, July 9: The opening game of the Pirates’ final series before the All-Star Break featured a surprise turn of events…a surprise that wasn’t so pleasant for Pittsburgh fans. After leading the game 4-2 through 7 innings, the Pirates’ relievers surrendered 1 run in each of the final three innings of the game, as the Brewers toppled the Buccos in 10 innings, 5-4.
Paul Maholm put together a strong game, lasting 7 innings, while only giving up 2 runs on 3 hits. Unfortunately and uncharacteristically though, the relief pitching gave up the lead, and eventually, lost the game for the Pirates. Joel Hanrahan, Octavio Dotel, and all-star Evan Meek each gave up 1 run on their way to ruining Maholm’s strong performance.
Andrew McCutchen was the hitting star of the day for the Pirates, going 2-5 with 1 HR and 2 RBI. Jose Tabata and Lastings Milledge each added 2 hits of their own, but their bats, as we’ve seen so often already this season, quieted as the game went further and further into the later innings. Corey Hart had a homerun and 2 RBI for the Brew-Crew, while Ryan Braun (Pittsburgh’s favorite Brewer) delivered the game-winning single in the 10th inning.
Saturday, July 10: The roles were reversed in the second game of this 3-game series, as the Brewers took the early lead and the Pirates attempted to mount a comeback. Unfortunately, the Pirates couldn’t equal what Milwaukee did the night before, and the Pirates dropped their second straight to the Brewers at Miller Park.
Chris McGehee singled home Ryan Braun in the first inning, giving the Brewers the early lead. Braun then homered in the 3rd inning, and was followed immediately by Prince Fielder with a solo shot of this own. Craig Counsel continued the scoring in the 5th with a sacrifice fly to deep right center, barely missing a homerun of his own, but still enabled Braun to score on the play.
The Pirates’ rally began in the 6th inning with Garrett Jones’ solo homerun to right, and was followed up in the 7th inning as Andrew McCutchen sacrificed Bobby Crosby home. The comeback came up short in the 9th, however. After Ryan Doumit led off the inning with a solo homerun, the Pirates then went down in order, to secure the win for the Brewers, setting up an afternoon game between the two N.L. Central teams for the final outing before the All-Star Break.
Sunday, July 11: In the most frustrating game of this series, the Brewers and Pirates exchanged punches throughout the 9-inning contest, with the final punch from Milwaukee being a knockout in the bottom of the final frame. The Pirates jumped on top in the 2nd winning, tallying 3 runs by way of a Lastings Milledge homerun, a Brad Lincoln RBI single, and Andrew McCutchen’s sac fly.
After the Brewers tied the game up, Pittsburgh re-took the lead in the 6th on Pedro Alvarez’s solo moon shot to dead center. Again, Milwaukee evened the game and as they went into the 9th inning, it seemed as though this one could be headed for extra innings. The Pirates manufactured a run in the inning, though. After Ronny Cedeno reached base safely on a bunt and a sacrifice, Andrew McCutchen blasted a deep fly to right field, allowing Cedeno to tag and score, giving our Buccos the lead. But in the bottom of the inning, after Jim Edmonds doubled to lead things off, Corey Hart smashed a walk-off 2-run homerun to the right field bleachers, ending the game and completing the sweep of the Pirates.
So the Pirates have finished another road trip dismally, this time being swept by the Astros and Brewers and going 0-6 to finish up the first half of the season. It has been a terrible stretch for the Pirates, and a 4-day break is EXACTLY what they need. They open up the second half of the season at home, where they are 1 game over the .500 mark on the season. While their overall record is pathetic, the all-star break represents the time, when we, as Pirates fans, can look at the rest of the season as a season in itself. Rather than looking at the overall record, it will be interesting to observe how the Pirates perform for the rest of July and into the months of August and September. Hopefully this break is just what they need, and they’ll be able to come out of the gate strong at PNC Park. As we all know, nothing is ever for certain when we’re talking about our Battlin’ Buccos.
Current Record: 30-58
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!