Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? That game SUCKED. Watching Paul Maholm hold the Cubs scoreless for seven innings only to have it all given right back by the defense and the bullpen in the eighth is the kind of loss that stings particularly bad early in the season. Meek didn’t pitch well, the defense was bad behind him, and Clint Hurdle was way slow pulling the trigger on getting Meek out of the game. That’s a recipe for disaster that’s what cost the Pirates the game yesterday.
What made it particularly hard to watch was that up to that point, you could argue that Saturday’s game was better-played than Friday’s by the Pirates. They made Zambrano pay for his wildness early on, and this time their defense (Pedro Alvarez in particular) played strongly behind Paul Maholm. Had they held on, it would’ve been a well-played win. Instead, everything blew up in their faces and the Bucs got sidled with an ugly loss.
As a side note, Clint Hurdle drove me nuts yesterday. Both Neil Walker and Jose Tabata squared around to lay down sacrifice bunts in the first half of the game. Walker was unsuccessful and later in the at-bat hit an RBI double. Tabata, unfortunately, was successful in bunting Paul Maholm over to second, only to watch Walker and McCutchen make quick outs and what could’ve been a promising inning that started with a hit by the pitcher was instead a waste. It’s absolutely insane that the young hitters that fuel this team are being asked to give up swings to sacrifice bunt and if Hurdle is going to keep calling for it, I’m going to not like Hurdle very much at all. Coupled with his hanging Evan Meek out to dry (both Garrett Olson and Chris Resop were warming very early in the eighth inning and it was clear after the wild pitch that Meek just didn’t have it on a second cold day in a row), it was a bad day for Hurdle yesterday.