Thursday, October 10, 2013

Summer To Remember: Part 1 - Opening Day to June

We thought we'd take a look at that wild ride that was the 2013 Pirate season, broken into bite-seized bits.

 The Pirates werepredicted by the local baseball blogosphere to be an 80-85 win club going into the season, with decent pitching and an improved, but still sub par, attack. Pittsburgh lost 5-of-6 to open the year, but fueled by winning 11-of-13 in a two-week span in May, were just two games off the pace on May 31st. Some notable moments in that stretch:

  • April 6 - Clayton Kershaw won a pitching duel against AJ Burnett 1-0 at Dodger Stadium. Burnett gave up the only run in the third on an infield single, stolen base and two-out grounder through the SS hole. Four Buc pitchers combined for 11 K, but Kershaw and friends spun a two-hitter. 
  •  April 17 - AJ Burnett had a no-hitter going against the Cards at PNC Park, carrying the no-no into the seventh before Carlos Beltran banged a double. It was a big day for AJ; he also went over the 2,000 mark in career strikeouts. The Bucs won 5-0. 
  • April 19 - Wandy Rodriguez tossed seven innings of one hit ball as the Bucs beat the NL leading Atlanta Braves 6-0 at PNC Park. The Bravos ended up with two hits, and both were erased on DP balls. There were no walks or errors, so the three Pirate hurlers (Wandy, Mark Melancon, Vin Mazzaro) faced the minimum 27 batters. 
  • April 25 - The Bucs beat the Phillies for the third straight time at Citizen’s Bank Park by a 6-4 score. It’s the first time in eighteen occurrences that Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee threw back-to-back-to-back games and lost all three. The Pirates were beat in the first match of the four game set by Jonathan Pettibone, who was making his first MLB start.
  • May 8 - After being DFA'ed on April 30th. LHP Jonathan Sanchez, who broke camp with the Pirates as a fifth starter after a rash of injuries felled the other contenders, was released.  He went 0-3 with a 11.85 ERA, giving up 25 hits, including seven home runs, in 13-2/3 IP.
  • May 11 - After sitting out with an off-season broken arm, Francisco Liriano got plenty of help in winning his first game as a Pirate, an 8-2 victory over the NY Mets at CitiField. He lasted 5-⅓ innings and whiffed nine, supported by Jose Tabata’s 4-for-5 day with a homer, double, three runs scored and three driven home. Mike McKenry chipped in with three more RBI and Jordy Mercer banged out a pair of solo long balls. 
  • May 14 - The Bucs snapped a five game home losing streak to the Brewers at PNC Park, thanks to six innings of shutout work from the bullpen and Andrew McCutchen’s walk off homer off Mike Fiers in the twelfth frame to take a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee. Cutch ended a frustrating night that saw two of his balls caught at the fence with the breeze from the river blowing in. That wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the Pirate hitters, who went 0-for-15 with RISP. Vin Mazzaro picked up the W with two innings of scoreless ball. 
  • May 17 - The Bucs overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Astros 5-4 at PNC Park when two Astro fielders ran into each other with two down in ninth, allowing Russ Martin’s pop to drop and Andrew McCutchen to score the walk-off run. There were some legit efforts by Pittsburgh. Tony Watson, Vin Mazzaro and Justin Wilson tossed 4-1/3 frames of scoreless ball and Pedro Alvarez cranked a 462’ shot into the Allegheny on one hop off the Riverwalk. The eighth inning, game tying two run shot fell a foot short of Matt Lawton’s 2005 drive against Jamey Wright of Colorado of becoming the longest homer ever hit at PNC Park. 
  • May 21 - The Cubs scored first and last, but the Bucs scored enough in the middle, keyed by a sixth inning Travis Snider grand slam, to eke out a 5-4 win. Snider’s grannie was his first ever and the first Buc pinch hit slam at PNC Park since 2003, rallying the Pirates from a 3-0 hole to a 5-3 win. 
  • May 22 - Francisco Liriano outdueled the Cubs Jeff Samardzija 1-0 at PNC Park; the only run scored in the first, when with two outs Andrew McCutchen doubled and Garrett Jones singled him home. Liriano gave up two hits, a walk and K’ed nine in seven innings. It was only the second time in Pirate history that a pitcher began his Pittsburgh career by allowing a run or less in his first three outings, the other being Dave LaPoint in 1988. 
  • May 25 - The Bucs hit four homers, two by Pedro Alvarez, and Jeff Locke ran his scoreless streak to 14 frames in a 5-2 win at Milwaukee’s Miller Field. For Locke, it was his sixth start out of the last seven giving up three or fewer hits. 
  • May 28 - The Bucs rode strong pitching and an eleventh inning home run by Neil Walker off Jose Ortega to edge the Tigers at Comerica Park 1-0, despite striking out 14 times. Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello started the game while Jason Grilli finished it in style with swinging strikeouts of Motown’s Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order to earn his 21st save and Mark Melancon’s first win as a Pirate. 
  • May 30 - For the second time in three days, the Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers, 1-0 in 11 innings. The Bucs used four pitchers and a Neil Walker homer to win at Comerica Park on the 28th (see above), then flew home to PNC Park and won behind six pitchers and a Russell Martin walk off single off the wall. It was the club’s fourth 1-0 win in an 11 game span.

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