Miller Park hasn’t been friendly to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the last few years. It definitely wasn’t friendly tonight. The Pirates lost 10-4 in game one of a three game series in Milwaukee, with the Brewers taking control of the game from the first inning.
Milwaukee started off strong, taking a 5-1 lead after one inning. Wandy Rodriguez, who looks like he was destined to be a Pirate due to his career struggles in Miller Park, gave up five runs in the first. Rodriguez walked the first batter, then gave up a two run homer to Jean Segura. After a Ryan Braun double, Rodriguez walked the next three batters. He only avoided a run thanks to a pickoff by Russell Martin. Clint Barmes had a chance to turn a double play to end the inning, but booted the play and only got one out, which allowed three more runs to score.
In the fourth inning Rodriguez gave up back-to-back solo homers, including one to opposing pitcher Yovani Gallardo, which seems like it happens every time Gallardo pitches against the Pirates. Rodriguez couldn’t complete the inning, and the Pirates called on Jonathan Sanchez. The lefty got out of the fourth inning, but gave up back-to-back solo homers of his own in the 5th to make it 9-2 Milwaukee.
Sanchez ended up throwing 2.1 innings, allowing just the two runs on solo homers. It definitely wasn’t a good outing for him, but it was good that he was available for the outing. Sanchez probably doesn’t have much time remaining with the Pirates, so the fact that he could go multiple innings in a meaningless game, while saving the rest of the bullpen, was a good thing. The only questionable part of it was when Clint Hurdle sent Sanchez to the plate in the top of the 7th inning, only to remove him and bring in Jared Hughes in the bottom of the 7th.
Hughes gave up the final run of the night, and was replaced by Vin Mazzaro after one inning of work. The Pirates put two more runs on the board thanks to a Garrett Jones homer, but couldn’t come close to Milwaukee.
You’d like to look at the way the Pirates started their last series with St. Louis as a sign of hope. The Pirates lost that one 9-1, then came back to win the next two games, including a 9-0 victory in game three. Unfortunately, the Pirates have been so horrible in Milwaukee in recent years that assuming any win is probably being too optimistic. They’ve combined to win three games at Miller Park over the last two years. The team is off to a great start this year, but it would be hard to take that start seriously without seeing the Pirates actually beating Milwaukee, and beating them in Milwaukee.
The next two games might not have much of a guarantee. James McDonald takes the mound tomorrow, and definitely hasn’t been the picture of consistency this year. Jeanmar Gomez will start on Wednesday, and while he’s been effective out of the bullpen this year, his numbers as a starter leave a lot to be desired. The Pirates have been surprising in the early part of the 2013 season, but winning the next two in Milwaukee would be shocking. Getting one win in the next two games would be a good thing, and the best chance of that happening is if the Good J-Mac shows up tomorrow.