The first three innings went by quickly. Paul Maholm was dealing progressive; a perfect first, a single in the second, and a single and walk in the third. AAA call up Alex Sanabia was dishing better; he allowed one single during that span.
In the fourth, Pedro showed off his rifle to get the last out. He dove for a ball hit up the line, made the snag, and threw out Cody Ross from his knees in foul territory, preserving a 1-2-3 inning for Maholm.
Neil Walker gave the fans their first thrill when he drove one deep to right, but Mike Stanton picked it off the wall for a loud out. It was a 0-0 game after four.
The pitchers both sat down the order in the fifth. Maholm had faced three batters over the minimum, Sanabia, one more than the minimum.
But for Bucco pitchers, the sixth inning is an abyss that they just can't cross. A leadoff walk, single, and Gaby Sanchez blast - and it was a shot, landing in the Pirate bullpen beyond the Notch - made it 3-0.
It got uglier. Another single was erased on an around-the-horn DP, but a double, two singles, and a hit batter - the pitcher Sanabia - brought in a run and the hook. Sean Gallagher came in and struck out Emilio Bonifacio.
For Maholm, his line was 5-2/3 frames pitched, giving up eight hits, four runs, two walks and two K's. The Pirates tried in the sixth, hitting two balls to the track then ending the frame when McCutch was robbed on a play in the hole by Bonifacio. Same result as three K's, though - nada.
Wil Ledezema apparently didn't learn much by watching Maholm; he walked the first batter and wild-pitched him to second. But unlike PM, he bore down and got a K and two pops to escape unscathed.
The Pirates got a leadoff single from Jose Tabata, who promptly got doubled off first after a Walker line out. Jones K'ed, and the Bucs went down meekly again. Daniel McCutchen pitched a clean eighth; the Pirates were down to six outs.
They used up the first two before getting on the board with back-to-back doubles by Chris Snyder and Argenis Diaz, his second knock of the night. Snyder's was catchable, but a diving Logan Morrison forgot to drop his glove, and it got past him to the wall.
Clay Hensley took the hill, and struck out Delwyn Young on a ball in the dirt that got away from the catcher, a throw 'em out whiff. Sanabia gave up four hits and a run without a walk and with five K's in 7-2/3 innings.
Joel Hanrahan came out to get a little work, and set down the Fish. The Bucs took their last shot with the top of the order against closer Leo Nunez.
McCutch got it off to a good start when he lined a shot into the left field seats. With one out, Walker singled, bring up Jones and Pedro as tying runs. Nunez struck them both out swinging, showing the duo nothing but 96 MPH fastballs. It was mano a mano, and Nunez won hands down.
Well, now we know this; the Pirates can't beat a AAA pitcher. Heck, they couldn't beat the King and His Court the way they're swing the sticks right now. Maybe they should sign Pedro Cerrano and let him sacrifice a chicken to the baseball gods. Couldn't hurt, hey?
The Mets series will open tomorrow night with Jeff Karstens taking on Mike Pelfrey.
-- Ronny Cedeno is still out. He could be ready as soon as tomorrow, but more likely the weekend, as he made it through BP today.
-- The Pirates were supposed to see Sean West today, but his knee blew up and he was put on the DL. Alex Sanabia, who started in AA, had a couple of starts in the bigs, and was sent down to AAA, was recalled to replace him in the rotation.
-- Jameson Taillon was introduced to the media mob today; he and the suits had the predictable lovefest. He told the press hounds what he wanted to work on: fastball command, developing a more effective change, and learning the ins and outs of pitching sequences to hitters.
Taillon did mention that he throws a "spiked" curve, a sort of knuckle-curve. It's comparable somewhat to Mike Mussina's hook, with a little more velocity and a little less break. And he confirmed his itinerary - off to State College for the rest of their year to get acclimated and do some bullpen tossing, then to the Instructional League.
He added that he always felt a deal was going to be worked out; he claimed the hardest part of negotiations was not playing ball for ten weeks while waiting for the final contract.
-- The Pirates officially announced the signing of Luis Heredia about twelve hours after Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette broke the story. Heredia and his parents were at PNC, snapping photos like Japanese tourists.
-- Stetson Allie says he likes closing; the Pirates want him to start. And for $2.25M, who can blame them? Actually, Allie said he's cool with either role. Let's just hope he doesn't follow the Daniel Moskos path.
Nice trio of pitchers - Heredia, 16, tops out at 94; Taillon, 18, has hit 99, and Allie, 19, has touched 102. Some true power arms there; now to see if they harness their heat and become pitchers.