Hey, it took fourteen innings, five hours and a few minutes, and lasted from Friday night to Saturday morning, but the Pirates put their first home win to bed in the wee hours, taking a 4-3 victory from the Rox.
Good thing it was over before last call, because the Pirate bullpen of Jeff Karstens, Mike Crotta, Jose Veras, Joel Hanrahan, Chris Resop and Garrett Olson deserved a nightcap.
They went 11-2/3 innings of shutout baseball while giving up just six hits in relief of Ross Ohlendorf, who served up a first-inning, three-run shot to Jason Giambi and left the game in the third with a sore shoulder, aching in the same area that shut him down last season.
And they did it without Evan Meek, who was held out because his shoulder was tight.
Jose Tabata was the hero, doubling in Josh Rodriguez, who had walked with two away, to win the game and hitting a solo shot in the fifth. The clutch rap came after Jim Tracy and Clint Hurdle wore out their thinking caps.
Tracy could have walked Tabata to get to Greg Olson, the on-deck batter because of a double switch; Hurdle sent the in-the-hole hitter, McCutch, to the on-deck circle rather than Olson in an effort to befuddle the Rox manager.
Clint claimed it was just so McCutch could coach J-Rod if there was a play at the plate. Heck, we don't even know if that's MLB legal (it probably is), but it worked.
We suspect the ploy didn't have much to do with the brainstorming; Tracy didn't want to walk the potential game-winning runner to second and likely suspected that Meek would work the next inning, sore arm or not. Still, a little smoke and mirrors action keeps things interesting.
Matt Diaz and Jason Jaramillo had the other RBI.
Another hero, for his leather rather than his stick, was Pedro. With the bases loaded and two away in the tenth, he dove to glove a smash up the line that was ticketed for the corner by Ty Wigginton and threw him out while on one knee.
The Pirates pitchers had to work. Karstens, Veras and Hanny were strong, notching nine Ks in their 5-1/3 innings of work.
But Crotta left a pair of runners aboard in his frame, Resop worked out of a couple of jams, walking three and giving up a pair of knocks in two frames, and Olson wriggled out of a bases-loaded pickle in the fourteenth. Colorado stranded 14 and were 1-for-15 with RISP.
The Pirates should sleep well, and get after it again tonight when Charlie Morton takes on rookie Greg Reynolds, filling Ubaldo Jimenez's spot.
-- The Pirates struck out 15 Rockies; every pitcher but Crotta registered a K. That goes a long way toward explaining the Rox terrible RISP performance; that's a full five innings of wasted at-bats.
-- The 11-1/3 scoreless innings by the Pirates bullpen was the longest by the club in a game since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
-- Pirate fans kept the faith on Buck night, despite the opening day beat-down and miserable weather; 29,192 showed up for the game. And hey, for the Buck Night ticket holders, where else can you get into a park and pay just 7 cents per inning?
-- Ohlie will be reevaluated today. If he misses a start, Jeff Karstens, who was stretched out to take J-Macs rotation spot if needed, will probably claim Ohlendorf's next turn. But if it's something that the staff thinks may linger, the Bucs will put him on the DL and call up an Indy arm. Ditto for Evan Meek, although his issue isn't considered serious.
At this point of the year, it's wise to choose a cautious approach. Between the chilly weather and the time remaining in the 2011 baseball marathon, taking a couple of weeks off now rather than risking a longer term injury is the better road to take.
-- Chris Snyder and Joe Beimel both had successful outings at Bradenton; their return to the roster is fast approaching.
-- Ramon Aguero, just released by the Bucs, was claimed by Texas and sent to their AAA club.
-- Manny Ramirez retired yesterday. He was rumored to be in hot water with drugs again, and was looking at a 100-game suspension. As Neil Young would lament "I've seen the needle and the damage done..."