There have been a couple of warning signs about the Pirates early season success in pitching. A lack of strikeouts and a plethora of free passes would top the list when doing a quick breeze through the stats. Despite having the worst K/BB ratio of any staff in the NL, the team came into the game with the third best ERA in the league. Babip against the Pirates hurlers was .279. For the vaunted Phillies, it was .336. The debt collectors came today and the result was the Pirates giving up more than five runs for just the second time on the young season.
It was ugly from the start. James McDonald manned the box. He walked Jonathan Herrera and Troy Tulowitzki. With two outs Seth Smith singled to drive in one. Jose Lopez followed with a three run bomb.
Pittsburgh was poised for a big inning in the second. Singles from Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Doumit off Jhoulys Chacin plus a walk to Garrett Jones loaded the bases with one out. Ronny Cedeno brought one in with a sac fly. But McDonald struck out to end the inning.
The Rockies missed out on adding to their lead in the third. Tulowtizki led off with a double. But he was stranded.
Pittsburgh tied it up in the third and was on the brink of a huge inning. Jose Tabata was HPB to start the frame. Neil Walker singled. Andrew McCutchen’s single put one run on the board. Walker and Cutch moved up on an error from Ty Wigginton in left. Lyle Overbay doubled, tying the score at four each. Alvarez walked, putting two on with no one out. But Chacin induced a 4-6-3 off the bat of Ryan Doumit and then retired Jones on a comebacker.
Chacin got himself into more trouble in the next inning. He gave up one out singles to McDonald and Tabata, with a throwing error from Chacin allowing both runners to advance a base. Walker’s ground ball out scored McDonald with the go ahead run.
McDonald made his way through three straight quiet innings before hitting some difficulty in the seventh. He surrendered a two out single to Dexter Fowler and was pulled in favor of Michael Crotta. Fowler stole second and Herrera walked. Jason Giambi’s single tied the game and put Herrera on third. Tulowitzki walked and then Crotta gave up a bases loaded walk to Seth Smith. Daniel McCutchen entered and got Lopez to end the inning.
The Pirates last base runner came in the seventh inning. Tabata walked and stole second but was stranded. Huston Street whiffed two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect ninth inning.
Chacin gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings. He yielded seven hits and two walks while striking out three. McDonald got a no decision. He was charged with five runs in 6-2/3 innings of toil. He allowed six hits and two walks. He K’d a trio of Rockies. Crotta was the loser in relief of McDonald.
Tabata extended his hitting streak to 10 games and stole his fifth base.
The Pirates defense eliminated four base runners with two double plays, a pick off and a caught stealing.
Too many walks yielded and not enough taken on the other end.
Pirates have their first day off of the season tomorrow.
Crotta had not walked anyone or allowed a run in his brief MLB career. This was his first career decision. He had previously allowed one of two inherited runners to score. Hopefully he’ll be able to shake this off.
Herrera was 5-10 with seven walks and four runs scored in three games played during this season.