3-2 losses are always tough to stomach. What more could the Pirates have done? James McDonald was way less than sharp in his season debut, walking four hitters and working deep into a ton of counts. He got pulled after 87 pitches and 4 2/3 innings. As I wrote earlier, it’s not really surprising to see him start slow given his injury and missed time, but if he was sharp tonight he probably could’ve given the Cardinals fits.
The bullpen will take the loss, but they were pretty sharp in relief of McDonald tonight; the only run came after Garrett Olson got ahead of Colby Rasmus 0-2, split the zone with a beautiful pitch that was somehow called ball 1, and then Rasmus singled to move Ryan Theriot to second. Chris Resop came in and gave up a seeing-eye single to Albert Pujols and that was the difference. It would be easy to lay blame on home plate ump Kerwin Danley tonight; not only did his small zone hurt the Pirate bullpen in the seventh, he called a seemingly huge strike zone against Pirate hitters later on in the game.
But the reality is that when you’re facing a converted reliever in his first start ever, you can’t lay the blame on the ump when you only score two runs. The Bucs charged out to a two-run lead on Lyle Overbay’s first inning homer and then did zilch against Kyle McClellan. Miguel Batista relieved him and looked awfully wild, but the Pirates let him cruise through two innings without every really working the count or threatening against him. The Pirates strike out a lot, but that’s fine on nights they draw work counts to draw walks or string together a ton of hits the way they did against the Cubs on Sunday. They didn’t do either today, and that’s why they lost.