Let’s start with this: this post will not be about bunting. I have an alarming amount of things to say about bunting and I’ll probably say them several times in the near future. The bunting in this game made me angry, but I want to save most of these thoughts for later so that I can be more coherent and (hopefully) eloquent about it. For tonight, the Pirates had one of their better wins of the year in a lot of ways and I think it’s better that we just focus on that.
The game started with Kevin Correia spotting the Rockies a 2-0 lead on a Carlos Gomez homer and kicking off a bunch of wailing and tooth-gnashing about his home/road splits and how the Pirates shouldn’t let him pitch at PNC Park anymore. That died down pretty quickly as the Pirates got a run back after Alex Presley’s leadoff double and Correia put things into a gear that we haven’t seen much of in his Pirate career. After his rough first, Correia held the Rockies to just one more hit over the next five innings. He struck out four hitters over the next five innings and he put down the last ten batters he faced. Really, I thought it was one of his better starts as a Pirate and certainly one of his better starts in a long time.
This is the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, though, and so for a long time it looked like that CarGo’s two run homer was going to hold up. I said I wouldn’t talk about bunting, but the reality is that the Pirates had some chances to even things up in the early parts of the game and generally played for one run and ended up one hit short on a couple of different occasions. That finally changed in the seventh when Alex Presley lead off with his second double of the night, then advanced to third when Jose Tabata blooped a single into right field (Tabata had initially squared to bunt in the at-bat, which was maddening given Presley’s speed at the place in the lineup and the fact that one run wouldn’t win the Pirates the game … and here I am talking about bunting). Both guys scored when Andrew McCutchen crushed a ball into left-center that very nearly cleared the fence for his first homer of the season. It doesn’t feel right to celebrate a baseball team stringing three hits together to score two runs, but to this point in 2012 that’s just not something the Pirates have ton much of at all. It was nice to see.
And so the Pirates immediately squandered those warm fuzzy feelings. Jason Grilli gave up a double to Marco Scutaro and CarGo hit his second two-run homer of the season off of Tony Watson and it seemed like despite ‘Cutch’s clutch hit, the Pirates were going to drop another one run game.
Instead, Clint Barmes lead off the bottom of the eighth with his second homer of the year (Barmes went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a homer; Barmes only had four hits and eight total bases all year before tonight and his batting average rose from .089 to .146 tonight while his slugging percentage exploded from .156 to .313) to tie the game. Garrett Jones drew a pinch-walk, and then advanced to second with the Rockies botched Alex Presley’s sacrifice bunt attempt (see, I’m not talking about bunting here, but Presley had been killing the ball all night and taking the bat out of his hands just to get a runner to second was an absurd decision to make). The Pirates nearly squandered it when Jose Tabata popped up his bunt attempt (!!!!) (SEE HOW RESTRAINED I’M BEING?! CAN YOU TELL HOW MUCH I WANT TO MAKE THIS A 20,000 WORD POST ABOUT HOW DUMB IT IS TO THROW OUTS AWAY?!??!?!) and Andrew McCutchen grounded out, but the Pirates finally got the winning run across on a Casey McGehee single.
So after a season of offensive impotence, the Pirates rallied from a one-run deficit in the seventh and eighth innings tonight. They did it not just with the top of the lineup, but with Clint Barmes’s bat finally coming a little bit alive. They got a really solid start from Kevin Correia along the way. I’d like the Pirates to hang a crooked number on the board at beat someone by more than one run at some point, but for now I’ll happily settle for a win like this one.