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.”

**

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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  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.martin.9003 Bob Martin

    It’s the same story every year. The pitching will be outstanding and the offense won’t produce, then the pitching will slip back to normal and the hitting will come alive to win a few games. It will get us all excited, but then the pitching will get tired and fall completely off at which time the hitting fall off too. This leads to 90-97 losses every year. I’m tired of it!!!!

    • TonyPenaforHOF

      Your right and here are the reasons why:

      Luhnow Leads Scouting Directors With 21 Opening Day Players – http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/luhnow-leads-scouting-directors-with-opening-day-players/

      Ex-Pirates owner Lustig: Nutting ‘too rational’ – http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/3769786-74/lustig-nutting-money#axzz2PYfMip7k

      This is why we will never be winners with the current leadership and owner. I can’t believe it’s the third game of the season and I am already down!

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      we lost 83 games last year. which means you were only partly miserable.

      • TonyPenaforHOF

        I guess I am going into the season with a higher level of misery than normal.

        Without the Triple A Astros in the division we are going to have a harder time winning. This is from memory so if I’m off a little don’t go wild but I believe we were 12 and 4 against Houston, meaning our non-Houston record was 67 and 79 or a winning percentage of .458. We weren’t as good as our record indicated last year.

        Our roster additions weren’t great either. The capper for me was on St. Patrick’s Day. I saw the game live and the Pirates looked terrible. Yes I know it’s spring training, and yes I know the players are working on certain parts of their game, but SOME parts of baseball are still baseball.

        The Yankees had 3 regulars with them. That’s it. The rest of the players were wearing hockey numbers (87, 92, 73, etc…). Most were just players filling out a spring training roster. The Pirates 7 starters and one bench player. Their pitcher was flavor of the week “hot prospect” Phil Irwin. The Yankees jumped out early and the Pirates made mistake after mistake – even in the most basic parts of the game. It was ugly – way too ugly for a MLB team to EVER look.

        I was kind of down on the Bucs before that game but I really lost faith after watching that game. They looked like a bunch of players who didn’t know baseball.

  • John

    We’re 3 games into the season. At least wait until June to despair!

  • http://www.facebook.com/fred.langford.9 Fred Langford

    The 4 minor league teams went 0-4 and got outscored 21-9 in their debuts today. At least no major prospects were on the mound. Hanson & Polanco went 0-8 and Stetson Allie and Nate Baker had horrible days with Allie 0-4 with 4 K’s. I’m shocked he is at full season ball. Jarek Cunningham had the best day of anyone with a homer and a double. Hopefully he will adjust in his second year in AA and be at AAA by the end of the year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.graham.773 Bryan Graham

    How long until we start hearing “the Pirates keep running into the top of every teams rotation”? I also love how they haven’t learned anything about holding base runners on, they haven’t been close to throwing anybody out this year stealing. Thank goodness the pitchers haven’t been walking many. Lastly, the .211 average Russell Martin had last year is starting to look pretty good. I know it’s only 3 games, but the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same for the Buccos.

  • jimfalbo21

    Jmac walked Nate Schierholtz, not Brent.

  • NorCal Buc

    HAD we won yesterday, with Walker hitting ANYHING but a DP, we would have NOT been world beaters. Similarly, we are not in the tank.

    It’s three games. ALbeit, against the cubbies, we ought to have won two. In L.A., we facing three TOP pitchers. I’ll be happy with one win……

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    The sky is falling!

    It’s one frikkin series!

    Sheesh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.martin.9003 Bob Martin

    I know it only 1 series but I saw a lot of things that I have seen before with this team. They don’t so anything right when they are on offense. Snider was up twice with the shift on and he couldn’t lay down one bunt to third base. That is unexceptable as a Major league player. Then they have the tying run on third and Pedro goes fishing knowing that Marmol hasn’t been throwing strikes. Walker comes up next and with only 1 out knowing a fly ball to the outfield ties the game, instead of trying to drive the ball he rolls or over to the second baseman for a DP to end the game. Again I know we’re only 3 games into the season but I have seen this “movie” more than once and I know how it’s going to end.