Thursday, April 26, 2012

Game 18: Pirates vs. Rockies Recap

(Blogger's Note: This is only a recap of the second game of the doubleheader. I work night turn so I missed most of the first game. As much as I love the Pirates, there is no way I'm waking up at noon for a game unless it's the playoffs. Moving on.....)

The Pittsburgh Pirates split their twin billing against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. While nothing is that exciting about a split in and of itself, there were a lot of positives to take away from the two games. The Pirates also set another record on Wednesday. They are the first team to go 18 games into the season without scoring or allowing more than five runs.

Charlie Morton started for the Pirates and added onto the excellent pitching that the Pirates have gotten from their starters this season. He threw seven innings and didn't give up a run until Ramon Hernandez hit a solo home run against him in his final inning of work. The seven efficient innings weren't even the most promising part of his start. It was well documented last year that despite Morton's turnaround, he still struggled greatly against left handed hitters. That was not the case on Wednesday. Left handers went 2-for-11 on the day and that's a group that includes Carlos Gonzalez.

Bounces haven't gone the Pirates' way to this point of the year. Or for the past 19 years for that matter. One odd thing about PNC Park is that they don't have too many true doubleheaders like Wednesday. The reason is because the way the sun sets on the stadium late in the afternoon. That was shown because Gonzalez had a mess of a fifth inning in left field.

The Pirates scored five runs in the fifth and shouldn't have scored any. With Alex Presley on second base and one out in the inning, Nate McLouth hit a seemingly routine fly ball to Gonzalez. He never saw the ball and it bounced under his glove. That should have been out number two. Instead it was a run. Next, Andrew McCutchen hit a ball in almost the same spot. Gonzalez never saw that ball either which should have been out number three. Instead it resulted in a run. Hitting the ball to Gonzalez wouldn't be necessary after that.

Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez hit back to back home runs. Jones' homer was the first non-solo home run of the season for the Bucs. Alvarez's home run was his second of the day as he accounted for the Pirates' only run in the first game of the doubleheader with a bomb. What was even better than the home run for Alvarez was in the seventh inning when he hit a two out double the other way off of a left hander. Those are the kind of results that we have yet to see from him and shows that he's starting to see the ball a lot better.

There's no reason to be jumping up and down over a series win over the Rockies. But there is reason to be excited about what the Pirates' showed. Morton and James McDonald continued the excellent starting pitching. McDonald even took a no hitter into the seventh inning of the first game. Alvarez showed signs of being what everyone wants him to be. Jones is showing signs of getting on one of his hot streaks. Even Clint Barmes had a great series with the bat. All things to build on when they go to Atlanta for the weekend.

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