The Pirates started Saturday’s game out with two runs in the first inning off of Barry Zito thanks to a bases-loaded single by Neil Walker, but it was pretty much all downhill from there. The end of the game was hugely frustrating, of course, but let’s hit a few waypoints before we get there.
Charlie Morton did alright against a Giants’ lineup that literally featured all lefties or switch-hitters. He gave up seven hits (two triples), but didn’t walk anyone and still had a 9:2 GO:FO ratio in his five innings of work. I’m not going to look tonight, but he definitely seemed to be using his sinker quite a bit tonight, so I’ll take this as a decent result against a lefty-heavy lineup given that it’s his season debut. He was far from great tonight, but he was effective enough.
The offense, of course, was putrid after the first inning. Zito ended up lasting seven innings tonight and the Pirates only scored after the first thanks to some hilariously bad defense from Pablo Sandoval. After dinging Zito for three hits and a walk in the first, the Pirates drew no more walks and only had three more hits over the next three innings. That’s just unacceptable against a guy like Zito at this point in his career.
So, of course, that brings us to the ninth inning. Clint Hurdle had already used his only lefty and his two best non-Hanrahan relievers to this point in 2012 — Cruz and Grilli — but since the game was tied he decided to go with Chris Resop instead of Joel Hanrahan. I know this is something that every single manager in the league does and I realize that it probably wouldn’t have mattered tonight, since Hanrahan would’ve thrown a scoreless ninth and the Pirates wouldn’t have scored in the tenth and eventually the Giants would’ve won against a non-Hanrahan reliever anyway, but the concept of not using your best relievers in high-leverage situations is dumb. Sometime in the near future, a smart GM is going to convince his manager to un-learn the save rule, and that manager’s bullpen will be very good. Clint Hurdle will not be that manager.
So Resop loads the bases up with no one out and Melky Cabrera grounded the ball to Clint Barmes. Barmes was playing in, of course, and fielded the ball cleanly but made a low throw to Rod Barajas at the plate. Barajas tried to turn a double play before the ball got to him instead of ensuring the out at the plate, and in the process he failed to catch Barmes’s throw. The error goes on Barmes, but in this case I think both guys can wear it.
I feel like I might have more to say about this game, but this road trip has managed to completely wear me out inside of four games.