Game 59: Braves 5 Pirates 4

The worst part about being a Pirate fan is the little voice in the back of my head that pops out at the worst times to say, "Same old Pirates! Same old Pirates!" Before today the Pirates were 4-1 in extra inning games and had won 10 of their last 12 (by my count) one-run games. Guys like Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon might tip the odds in your favor in those sorts of games, but never quite that much. The Pirates are closing up a stretch of ten straight games against tough teams and they will, at the very worst, go 4-6 over that stretch. The bullpen is overworked after throwing ten innings on Monday and even though it seems like there's plenty of talent in it, no one other than Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli has really stepped up to get big outs this year. These things happen. They do, they happen. 

But these things don't happen to the Pirates without a whole lot of consternation, because teams don't have 20 straight losing seasons by just shaking off five losses in six games, and so even though the Pirates are 35-24 in early June and they've got the Cubs on the schedule this weekend with some off-days to shore up the pitching staff, it's still hard to get that little voice out of the back of your head. 

Let's discuss the game. Jeff Locke gave up two runs tonight (which is a lot for him lately but not so bad in the grand scheme of things), but he also struck out seven hitters in 5 2/3 innings with no real control problems while mostly keeping the ball on the ground. Of course, immediately after he came out of the game in the sixth inning Ryan Reid came in and served up a game-tying homer to BJ Upton that more or less directly lead to the loss, since there was no scoring between that point and when the Braves scored to win the game in the tenth. It's a little annoying that it was Reid, who had only 1 1/3 big league innings to his name before tonight, was the guy brought into the sixth inning with the tying run at the plate, but I'm not sure who would've been a better option there. It's too early for Melancon in the sixth, and I think Hurdle wanted a righty to face Upton. If you assume Bryan Morris was  unavailable due to his three innings on Sunday, that leaves Mazzaro, who's more or less the long guy, and Jared Hughes, who Hurdle probably wanted to keep out of the game to avoid having him serve up a game-tying homer. Of course, Hurdle had no qualms about letting Tony Watson face a slew of righties in the eighth inning, so you could probably argue that either he or Justin Wilson would've made sense against Upton, but anyway, this is sort of a question without an answer at this exact moment in time, as borne out by the results of the game. 

The good news is that Pedro Alvarez hit an 0-2 Mike Minor pitch over the left-center field fence. Every time I read about Chris Davis or Domonic Brown, I cross my fingers and hope that Pedro's got the same sort of hidden vigorish.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.