Homer Bailey really isn’t a very good pitcher, but he’s always been the sort of pitcher that gives the Pirates fits. He throws hard and when he mixes that with his slider, the Pirates generally look helpless against him, even if that doesn’t happen against most other teams. Coming into tonight, he was 6-0 against the Pirates with a 1.79 ERA and a 2.65 K/BB ratio. The Pirates were helpless against him a week ago.
For whatever reason, the Pirates were a different team against Bailey tonight. The Reds got out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Pirates got both runs back on a crazy sequence of events in the top of the second that included a Garrett Jones stolen base, Rod Barajas beating out a double play, Clint Barmes doubling, and Barajas somehow scoring from first base on that double. In the third, Alex Presley lead off with a triple, Neil Walker bombed a homer to almost dead center, and then the Pirates strung together a bunch of hits and got two more runs on a Clint Barmes single. In the fifth, Casey McGehee added a solo homer off of JJ Hoover and in the sixth, the still-hot Alex Presley homered off of Hoover.
Eight runs, 12 hits, three homers, and that was more than enough, even with AJ Burnett failing to get an out in the sixth. That includes a rough ninth inning by Juan Cruz that necessitated a Joel Hanrahan appearance. Burnett was pretty good in his own right after the first, but not terribly efficient. Luckily, he was good enough with the Pirates piling runs on Bailey.
This particular incarnation of the Pirates’ offense is never going to be good, but when they get more than one bat going at a time you do get occasional glimpses of them being capable of more than we’ve seen so far in 2012. Tonight was one of those nights, and they’ve been coming a little more regularly lately. That’s why the Pirates have won eight of ten, and it’s why they’re suddenly just two games behind the Reds in the Central. I don’t know how long this stretch of offense or the excellent pitching will carry into the season, but I do know that this team is suddenly a lot of fun to watch.