It started out as a well pitched game. The Bucs broke out first when Alex Presley's two out single in the third brought in Ronny Cedeno, who had walked to begin the frame. It stayed 1-0 until the fifth when Jose Altuve homered, becoming the first Astro to pass second against Charlie Morton, to tie the game.
In the sixth, the wheels fell completely off. A lead off single turned into a runner at third with one away thanks to a balk and stolen base. Clint Hurdle decided to intentionally walk Carlos Corporan for the second time; he's hitting .188. Pinch hitter Matt Downs banged a grounder through the left side to bring in a run, and after 96 pitches, Morton was sent to the showers. He went 5-1/3 innings, and would eventually be charged with four runs on six hits, with four walks (two intention) and eight K's.
Chris Leroux, who has had the hot hand lately, came on and didn't get an Astro out. He gave up four straight singles before D-Mac came on. McCutchen gave up a two-out double, and the Fat Lady put on her Houston cap as the score reached 7-1.
D-Mac gave up another run in the seventh when a two out, two on grounder deflected off Jones' glove. McCutch homered in the ninth with two outs, and the Bucs went down 8-2.
It's getting to be like Groundhog Day. The Pirate starters hand over a manageable game early on, but the exhausted and erratic bullpen can't cover the final four innings. The Pittsburgh hitters struck out eleven more times tonight, and collected just four hits, two by Ronny Cedeno.
After the bright days of mid-July, it's gonna take a miracle to avoid the Bucs' 19th straight losing season. The preseason predictions of 70-75 wins by most crystal ball gazers is looking about right on.
James McDonald takes on JA Happ tomorrow night.
- McCutch became the eighth Pirate in history to join the 20-20 club when he homered in the ninth, and the first since Nate McLouth in 2008.
- Jose Tabata has a sore wrist and sat out the game tonight.
- The Bradenton Maruaders won tonight, clinching the second-half championship of the High Class A Florida State league and a playoff spot.
- The Pirates announced today that prospects 2B Brock Holt and OF Robbie Grossman will play for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. Pittsburgh still has five more roster spots to fill for Mesa, and Gerritt Cole is expected to get one of them.
- Steve Blass and Lanny Frattare are the Bucco nominees for the Ford Frick broadcasting honor. This year, the fans can vote, too, on Facebook.