These last few games have been awfully hard to recap or make any sense of. The Pirates didn’t play badly in any of their three losses to end the Milwaukee series and honestly could’ve swept the Brewers with any luck at all, but they also did some pretty specifically terrible things to ensure each of the three losses that made each of them feel deserved and tough to swallow. Then, on the heels of two straight blown ninth inning leads, the Pirates blew an eighth inning lead tonight and seemed to be teetering on the verge of a third straight late inning loss, before some horrible decisions by Bryan Price and some weird luck swung the game back in their favor. Now it’s April 21st and the Pirates are 9-11, but seven of their wins are by one-run and four of those seven one-run wins came against the Cubs. I don’t really know what to do with any of this; it’s hard enough to just sit back and absorb it all.
Anyway, back to this game. For the second start in a row, Francisco Liriano let Billy Hamilton score a run without giving up a hit. Today, Liriano hit Hamilton with a pitch to start the game, then let him go from first to third by not checking him on a soft grounder back to the mound. He finally scored on a fielder’s choice to Pedro Alvarez. The Reds added a second run in the third on back-to-back doubles. The Pirates’ finally broke through in the fourth against Mike Leake, when Ike Davis hit a grand slam into the first row of the right field grandstand (bonus: the guy that caught it was standing in what I’m pretty sure are the seats that my dad and my uncle and some other guys split their season tickets in) for his first Pirate home run (and his second grand slam against the Reds this year).
For a while, it looked like that grand slam would hold up. The Reds added a run in the seventh, though, and then the bullpen situation from yesterday caused Clint Hurdle to start the eighth inning with Liriano, where he promptly got into trouble. Liriano was then removed with two runners on for Jay Bruce, and Justin Wilson promptly served up a game-tying double to Bruce. After an intentional walk, Devin Mesoraco singled in the go-ahead run and almost brought an insurance run in, though Starling Marte saved the run by rifling Bruce out at the plate. Wilson somehow escaped the jam from there.
Bryan Price then decided that he wasn’t happy letting Clint Hurdle take all of the questionable decision glory, so he started the bottom of the eighth out with Manny Parra on the mound to face Andrew McCutchen. ‘Cutch drilled a long homer to right-center field. The Pirates threatened to score another run in the eighth, but came up short. The Reds threatened to score against Jared Hughes and the Pirate Bullpen Experience in the ninth, but Hughes barely got out of the jam. The Pirates finally won the game in the ninth when Brandon Phillips misread a Neil Walker line drive, let it drop for a hit, and then Bruce’s throw (which was strong, on line, and in plenty of time to get Martin at the plate) bounced over Devin Mesoraco’s head.
I don’t know, I’m exhausted just thinking about this one. I don’t think I have any analysis left. I’m happy the Pirates won. We can deal with the aftermath later.
Image credit: Tiffany Terry, Flickr