Hey, the Bucs played a pretty nice game. Made a lot of plays, got eight scoreless innings out of the bullpen, banged out three doubles and three triples - and lost, 7-6.
Oh, it took 15 innings for the Braves to win, and on a play that was two inches from getting the winning run at the plate; that's how far Jack Splat's throw pulled Jason Jaramillo off the dish. The Pirates had action on the basepaths during every extra inning, but went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position; they were shut out for the final eight innings.
Three things conspired to beat the Pirates tonight - a rare stinkeroo of a start from Zach Duke, five Brave runs that scored on three homers, and a season-long aversion to clutch hitting.
There were lots of little moments: Andrew McCutchen standing on third on a slow roller to first; Ramon Vazquez popping out on a borderline 2-0 pitch after the two batters ahead of him walked; Adam LaRoche's double play ball with two on and one out; Craig Monroe getting cut down at home; McCutchen's drive to straightaway center, caught 400' from home.
But it all boils down to coming through in the clutch, and that's what this year's version of the Pirates too often fail to do. That's the downside of small ball; you need a lot of your lineup to chip in for it to work instead of just your bangers.
A great sidebar to the game was the mano-a-mano match-up of Nate McLouth and McCutchen. McLouth went 3-for-7 with a homer, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. McCutch went 4-for-7 with a double and two triples, 2 runs scored, and an RBI. Think what they would have been like together.
(Check in with the GW early and often this week. We have profiles of the new guys coming up: Andrew McCutchen tomorrow, Gorkys Hernandez Wednesday, Charlie Morton Thursday, and Jeff Locke Friday; they'll post at 11 AM. We'll also have draft updates and profiles, along with gameday posts, in the late afternoon and evening. Man, we're tired of typing already!)