This game was long and terrible and I don’t want to spend much more time thinking about it, so let’s do bullet points:
- At one point in I think the third inning, the ESPN announcers mentioned that the Cardinals had fouled something like 17 of Brandon Cumpton’s 60 pitches off. On most nights, that would have sounded insane and I would’ve wanted to count for myself. This did not seem crazy. Cumpton was fooling no one.
- Somehow, the Pirates escaped the fourth inning down just 4-2, despite Cumpton’s struggles and Hurdle’s decision to bring Ernesto Frieri in to bail him out of a bases-loaded-one-out-one-run-already-in jam in the inning.
- Actually, while we’re here, this wasn’t a bad spot to use Frieri: the Pirates needed strikeouts there and Frieri’s a strikeout guy (I mean, he didn’t get strikeouts, but that was the logic and it wasn’t bad logic, necessarily), and things were already getting out of hand. The pitcher’s spot was due up in the top of the fifth, so Hurdle could go to a one-inning guy instead of Gomez. Frieri obviously could’ve made things worse there, but it’s still a much lower risk than a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Had he not blown Tuesday’s game, I don’t think people would’ve freaked out about Hurdle using him here nearly as much.
- Despite Cumpton’s struggles the Pirates had their chances after he was lifted. Andrew McCutchen had a brutal at-bat in the fifth inning after a two-out Josh Harrison double, when he took a 3-0 count and proceeded to swing and miss or foul off at least two or three ball fours with Neil Walker (who had a homer and a double off of Lance Lynn to that point) before finally grounding out to end the inning. In the seventh with the score still 4-2, Ike Davis hit a leadoff double and Chris Stewart accidentally bunted a single (he was trying to sacrifice Davis over, but popped up a bunt badly that luckily landed in between fielder). Matt Hague followed that up by swinging at the first big league pitch he’s seen in two years and bouncing into a double play, which basically ended the threat.
The Pirates entered this series in second place and are now in fourth place, two games behind the Reds and 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals. This whole series makes the goodwill of last week’s homestand feel like it was 100 years ago.