As a Pirate fan, you probably know that sometimes the losing team can have a lot more to do with the outcome of a baseball game than the winning team can ever hope to have. That sometimes, a team is going to lose no matter what their opponents do.
The Astros were going to lose this game tonight, no matter how many times the Pirates handed the lead back to them. The Astros built a 3-0 lead and as soon as Alex Presley homered to cut into it, they scored again. The Pirates threatened and threatened, but didn’t score again until Mike McKenry hit a two-run homer to cut that lead to 4-3. They needed McKenry to come through again with a double that eventually lead to a run to tie it, and as soon as that happened Jared Hughes gave up a run of hits that put the Astros right back in front.
Of course, with the way the Astros’ bullpen has been pitching of late, a one-run deficit in the ninth inning is exactly where you want them. The Pirates only managed one hit in the top of the ninth, but thanks to two walks and a wild pitch, the Pirates pushed two runs across to finally take a 6-5 lead that Joel Hanrahan was able to hold on to. The Pirates didn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position tonight; they scored three runs on two homers, had a sac fly, and score the final run on a wild pitch.
In short, what the Pirates had to do to win this game was to show up and not trip over their own shoelaces. Jeff Karstens didn’t pitch well, but he mostly minimized the damage that was done against him. The Pirates didn’t get hits with people on base, but at least they hit a few balls over the fence. The Pirates didn’t draw any walks in the first eight innings, but they managed to not swing when Rhiner Cruz couldn’t find the strike zone.
I’m not trying to minimize the Pirates’ win here; they won, it goes into the win column, and now we move on to tomorrow. All I’m saying is that the Astros played a terrible game and basically gift-wrapped it for the Pirates. The Pirates accepted it, which means they don’t lose a game in the standings to the Reds or Cardinals, who both won (again), and that’s what’s important.