Seeing Similarities in the Pirates’ Two Losses

The Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t complete a ninth-inning comeback in their 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs and it there was a sense of déjà vu to the game.

Russell Martin went 0 for 10 in the Pirates first three games. Photo credit: David Hague

Russell Martin went 0 for 10 at the plate in the Pirates’ first three games. Photo credit: David Hague

Much like in the Opening Day loss, the Pirates got a strong outing from its starting pitcher.

James McDonald allowed just two hits and one run in seven innings before handing the ball over to the bullpen.

“I was happy with the way I competed. Every pitch meant something to me,” McDonald said. “I went out there and went straight after guys and did OK.”

McDonald struck out four and gave up two walks and at one point retired 11 consecutive batters until walking Brent Schierholtz in the seventh. The bullpen — which had yet to allow a hit and a strong point for the team in the first two games of the season — let up two more runs that gave the Cubs just enough breathing room as it turned out.

James McDonald froze Alfonso Soriano with this pitch in the seventh inning. GIF by James Santelli - Pirates Prospects

James McDonald froze Alfonso Soriano with this pitch in the seventh inning. GIF by James Santelli – Pirates Prospects

“I’m really happy for (McDonald)  individually because he got a chance of really playing up for us,” Hurdle said. “Big picture, you want your team to win. If you can’t win, for James McDonald to go out and throw seven innings like that and one run — we couldn’t have hoped for much more than that. he was very, very, very good today.”

Just like in the Opening Day loss, the Pirates provided nearly no offensive backup for their pitching staff — at least until the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol gave the Bucs a glimmer of hope before ultimately coming up short.

Pittsburgh managed just one hit — a Clint Barmes double in the third inning — prior to the ninth inning. By the time the team put together any offense it was too late. Andrew McCutchen played a big role in that ninth inning rally with an RBI single. He struck out twice earlier in the game, and stole two bases.

“We had the opportunity. We didn’t get the job done. Good teams get the job done, we’ve just got to learn from that and do better next time,” McCutchen said. “It’s not like we’re getting killed 15 to nothing. The games are close there’s just a couple key things we’ve got to do. We’ve had the opportunity to win, we just didn’t get it.”

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Today was a travel day for me as well. I’ll have more notes and insight from Thursday’s game looking forward to Friday’s road game Los Angeles (which James Santelli will be covering) tomorrow.

Author: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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