Pirates Keep Rolling with 6-4 Win Over Phillies

The Pirates’ offense jumped on starter Cliff Lee and the Phillies’ relievers for 14 hits for a 6-4 win Thursday afternoon. Add in the fact that manager Clint Hurdle made far more of the right moves than his counterpart Charlie Manuel, and the Bucs wrapped a key four-game series win.

Gaby Sanchez

Gaby Sanchez hit his third homer of the season, trailing only Pedro Alvarez (4) in long balls. Photo Credit: David Hague

This is not a game the Pirates would have won last April. They didn’t even reach 14 hits in a game last year until June 27. Posting 10 hits on Lee is certainly not unprecedented (four teams did it last year), but the feat is not something the 2012 Pirates would have accomplished early in the year. This time around they have Travis Snider, Starling Marte and Gaby Sanchez, plus a Pedro Alvarez that is flashing his power earlier than in years past.

After six innings of failing to drive in baserunners Thursday, the Bucs made their move with two outs in the 7th. Trailing 3-1, Andrew McCutchen singled (his first hit of the series) to move Marte to second. Then Sanchez, who had scored the only Pirates run with a solo homer in the 6th, singled in Marte and put the tying run McCutchen on third.

It looked like Lee was done when Manuel walked up the mound. Instead, he stayed in and coughed up the game-tying RBI single to Michael McKenry before getting Alvarez to ground out as his final batter. Whether or not Lee convinced Manuel he was good to go, the decision to keep the starter in backfired on the Phillies manager.

But that’s not all! Phillippe Aumont took the mound in the 8th and proceeded to look like a reliever you have never heard of. After striking out Neil Walker, Aumont hit Clint Barmes (Barmes Offense Alert!) and gave up back-to-back singles to Snider and Marte. Hurdle correctly substituted Garrett Jones to pinch-hit for Brandon Inge, and Jones rewarded him with sharp two-run double off the right field wall. And boy, did the boos from frustrated Phillies fans rain down.

Aumont was removed, but Chad Durbin gave up another run to the Bucs. Sanchez hit a short fly ball with the bases loaded, but Marte decided to let it ride on John Mayberry. The right fielder’s throw was just wide enough up the baseline for Marte to narrowly avoid Erik Kratz’s tag (speed kills, children), and the Pirates were up 6-3. Alvarez nearly hit a grand slam, but swung just ahead of two pitches, smacking them foul towards the upper deck.

After losing the opening series to the Cubs, the Pirates embarked on 28 straight games against teams that finished .500 or better last season. They are now 12-7 on that run, including this 6-2 run against the Braves and the Phillies. Early-season records are largely based on the scheduled you face, and the Bucs have been impressive against strong competition.

McDonald: Neither Good Nor Bad

James McDonald

James McDonald has a 4.38 ERA through five starts. Photo Credit: Mark Olson

Whenever James McDonald makes a start, there is always a focus on whether hitters see “Good J-Mac” or “Bad J-Mac.” Such a black-or-white designation can’t really be made for his Thursday outing.

He certainly looked like J-Mac The Good (though not great) early on. He retired 9 of his first 10 hitters, allowing only a second-inning double to Ryan Howard. Walking Chase Utley to start the fourth bit McDonald, though, as he scored after a wild pitch and RBI double by Domonic Brown.

Still, McDonald was noticeably more efficient than usual, throwing only 71 pitches through his first five innings. But as usual, he became more hittable in the sixth inning, giving up a leadoff walk and two straight singles to leave the bullpen in a bit of a bind.

His final line: 5+ IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K and 50 strikes on 87 pitches. Again, not bad, but not living up to a No. 3 starter’s billing.

As we have become accustomed to, the bullpen nailed down the later innings. Justin Wilson took the troubles handed to him in the sixth and got three straight outs, allowing only one of McDonald’s runners to score. He followed with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out Kratz and Jimmy Rollins.

With Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli unavailable after pitching the last two nights, Tony Watson got the two-out save. His blemish in the eighth inning: Kevin Frandsen hit a leadoff double and came around to score on a Howard groundout.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

Pirates Shut Out Phillies 2-0 as Pitching Continues to Thrive

Next Story »

Sanchez Ejected in 1st, Walker Hurt as Pirates Lose 9-1

  • michaelbro8

    I thought the most entertaining part of this game was Pedro’s 2 foul balls up into the 3rd deck. The people in the stands with their jaws dropped in disbelief was priceless.

  • buc em all

    I was at the game today threw up the zoltan right in Charlie n aumonts face like a boss

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    13 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    2 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More