After losing 1-0 on Saturday by stranding a lead off triple, we thought things couldn't get more brutal in Milwaukee. Wrong.
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the eighth, Charlie Morton turned the ball over to Jose Veras with a runner on second and an out. Veras did his part, retiring Casey McGehee. Then Joel Hanrahan came on for the four out save, called on to face lefty Nyjer Morgan.
Struck him out, too, on a nasty slider. The ball ended in the dirt, and instead of sliding over to make the block, Mike McKenry, a dependable defensive dude behind the dish, stabbed at it with his glove and it skittered past him. The result was Nymo's K, instead of ending the frame, put runners on the corners. Two pitches later, Ryan Braun spanked a 98 MPH heater into center, and it was a tie game.
That not only cost Morton the win, but ended his 24-1/3 inning scoreless streak, the best since Bill Landrum's 1989 string of 31-2/3 frames. He was tough; heck, even the lefties were only 1-for-13 against him, with a walk and plunked batter.
In the tenth, an error and two walks loaded the bases for Pittsburgh with two away. Brandon Wood went for the first pitch - after two walks - and dropped the slider not even a step beyond the plate; George Kotteras, the catcher, just bent over, picked up the ball, turned and touched the dish for the force.
The Brew Crew faced Chris Resop, and four batters later a sac fly ended the game 2-1 in their favor. Again.
It was a team effort. The Pirates stranded seven runners in the last three innings, four in scoring position. They were 1-for-11 RISP. The second Pirate batter of the game scored; he would be the only one. Milwaukee, meh!
James McDonald takes on the Card's Jake Westbrook at PNC tonight.
- Jose Tabata is due back any time now, perhaps as soon as today. The early betting line was that Steve Pearce would go down when JT was removed from the DL, but now it might be Pedro Alvarez instead.
- Midnight is the deadline for draft signings, and the Bucs are yet to reel in the two big fish, Gerritt Coles and Josh Bell. Those will go on until the very last seconds of the day. Both players are tough signs because of both draft position and their agent, Scott Boras, who likes to maximize the leverage. Bell is still widely expected to go to college rather than turn pro, in which case the Bucs would get an equivalent pick in the 2012 draft. The other members of the top ten Pirate selections have signed except for high school RHP Clay Holmes, who is thought to be near agreement with Pittsburgh.