I have this form post stowed away that I feel the need to break out from time to time. It goes a little bit like this: As fans, we always like to put things in terms of what our favorite team does, but sometimes, you really have to flip it onto the other team’s terms. Some nights the Pirates aren’t bad, it’s just that the other team is a little bit better. That’s what happened here tonight. Jeff Locke was good, but Wade Miley was superb, and I don’t think there was anything the Pirates could’ve done to make it go differently.
All of that is still true, of course, except that it’s got a funny ending: the Pirates still won this game. Wade Miley was beyond excellent tonight. Through eight innings, the Pirates couldn’t do anything at all against him. They struck out ten times, they didn’t draw any walks, and they only had two hits (and really, one of those might’ve been a bit of homer scoring). Jeff Locke wasn’t bad by any means tonight: he did a nice job of scattering the eight hits he allowed and his newfound control was present (he only walked one Diamondback). He didn’t deserve the two runs he was tagged with because Gaby Sanchez should’ve been charged with a throwing error that lead to both Diamondback runs, but he just wasn’t in the same class as Miley tonight.
Locke was good enough to keep the Pirates close for eight innings, though, and Ernesto Frieri got them through the ninth with a little bit of help when Josh Harrison, who gunned Gerardo Parra down at the plate from right field. The only good news the Pirates had going into the bottom of the inning was that Miley had thrown 106 pitches in the first eight and was likely to be on a short leash. Five pitches later, and the Pirates had Neil Walker on second, Gregory Polanco on first, and the top of the lineup up against Addison Reed. It’s worth at least a quick mention that with the lefty Miley on the mound, both Walker and Polanco were at a bit of a disadvantage at the plate, but Walker squared up a solid single and Polanco hit a nice little flair into left field. That’s the nice thing about having a deep lineup: help can come from anywhere.
With all of the talk about trying to find Josh Harrison playing time and with the play he made from right field to keep the score 2-0 in the top of the ninth, I just sort of figured he’d be the one to get the big hit for the Pirates. He came close, hitting a solid flyout to deepish center. Instead it was Starling Marte who got to play hero. Marte missed badly on two sliders from Reed, but when Reed left a third slider up in the zone a bit, Marte crushed the third straight slider to within maybe a foot or two of a walkoff home run to dead center field. Instead of the walkoff homer, Marte got a game-tying, two-run double and advanced to third on the throw to the plate. That left the table set for a broken-bat Ike Davis walkoff single (Andrew McCutchen was intentionally walked, of course), and suddenly the Pirates are 43-40.
I don’t have a whole lot to add here; I didn’t have time to do a preview post because of the soccer game, but my main point was going to be the that the Diamondbacks are pretty awful this year and that this would be an ideal time for the Pirates to get their first sweep of the season, to put some games between them and the .500 mark, and to maybe make some in-roads in their playoff hunt. Obviously losing to Miley tonight would’ve been no great crime (as the Pirates showed in June, you can make a lot of progress by stringing two-out-of-threes together), but finding a way to steal this game really does bring up a lot of memories from last season. The Pirates found a way to lose a lot of these games in the early part of the season. It’s nice to end up on the other end of one. Every win in this NL Central division is going to make a difference, I think.