Hey, someone beside Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia has got to throw strikes. Today, James McDonald and Mike Crotta couldn't, and it cost the Bucs dearly as they went down 6-5 to the Rox.
In the first, J-Mac walked the second batter, and with two outs walked Troy Tulowitzki. Smart move? Not when the next guy singles and the following hitter homers, it ain't. The Bucs were down 4-0 before they could get off the field.
But give the guys credit; they clawed their way ahead. In the second, a Ronny Cedeno sac fly brought home Pedro. In the third, the Bucs tied it on a McCutch knock and a two-run double by Lyle Overbay. It looked like a huge inning was in the makings when Pedro walked to put runners at first and second with nobody away, but a Dewey 4-6-3 DP took care of that.
No matter; the Bucs went ahead in the fourth when J-Mac beat out an infield single and eventually got to third on an error, where he scored from on a Neil Walker bouncer.
McDonald was in a groove. After the rocky first, he settled in and threw five innings of goose eggs. He almost slid through the seventh, too. After getting the first two Rox, he gave up a soft single to Dexter Fowler. It was on his 103rd pitch, and Clint Hurdle called on Mike Crotta in your basic low-leverage situation to close out the inning. Well...
He walked the first hitter, gave up a tying single to the next, and followed with another pair of free passes, walking in the eventual game-winning run. he threw 21 pitches; seven were strikes. Daniel McCutchen got the last out, and pitched a scoreless eighth, but it was too late.
The winning walk was drawn by lefty Seth Smith; the book says that Garrett Olson should have gotten the nod, given the situation. But Clint Hurdle stuck with Crotta.
The Bucs were without an answer to Colorado's bullpen. In the final three frames, they were held hitless and struck out five times.
Two numbers stick out so far this season: 46 and 85. The first is the MLB-leading number of walks issued by the Pirates; the second is the MLB-leading number of K's taken by the Pirates (pending tonight's games). If Pittsburgh is to get the close games to swing their way, both numbers have to improve, and by a lot.
-- Jose Tabata extended his hitting streak to ten games, the longest in the Majors so far this season.
-- The Pirates are off tomorrow and face the Brew Crew on Tuesday. They'll send Shawn Marcum and lefties Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson against Pittsburgh.
-- Chris Snyder is close to being ready to return; the Pirates have made it clear since spring camp that they won't carry three catchers. So JJ will head to Indy; the Plan C catchers are Steve Pearce and Matt Diaz, according to Jen Langosch of MLB.com.