Sunday, April 8, 2012

Game 2: Pirates vs. Phillies Recap

For the first 16 innings of the 2012 baseball season, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata were the only two members of the Pittsburgh Pirates to collect hits. A lot of that can be attributed to the great pitching staff of the Philadelphia Phillies. In any case, the lack of hits is the big reason for the Pirates only having two runs through the first two games. The good part is that they have only allowed two runs as well.

Jeff Karstens took the mound for his first start of the season looking to build off of a career season in 2011. The first inning was not a good start. Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco started the game with back to back singles. Jimmy Rollins bunted them both into scoring position and Victorino scored on an infield single by Hunter Pence. It looks like Karstens was really getting beaten around judging by the box score but that wasn't the case. Many of the pitches that the Phillies' hitters put in to play were very good pitches. Better hitting just won the battle. Karstens settled down though and that would be the only run that would score on him through six innings of work.

Limiting the damage in the first inning was a good thing but any damage at all that early can be destructive when Cliff Lee is on the mound for the opposing team. Presley had the only hit through the first five innings and he was canceled out on the base paths when Andrew McCutchen grounded into his second double play in as many games.

Both starting pitchers were handed no decisions due to the results of the sixth inning. Yamaico Navarro made his Pirates' debut when he pinch hit for Karstens. Lee issued a rare walk to Navarro. Tabata followed with a single. The Presley grounded into what could have potentially been a double play to end the inning but thanks to the speed of Presley, the Phillies were only able to get one out on the play. The first pitch that McCutchen saw in the next at bat richocheted off of Carlos Ruiz's knee and towards the on deck circle. Navarro broke for home and thanks to a good kick off of the wall, Ruiz had him dead to rights but Lee missed the throw which allowed Navarro to be safe and tie the game.

Both bullpens threw three scoreless innings to send the game into extra innings. However, only one extra inning was needed. Joe Blanton, a former starter, was called upon to pitch the tenth inning for the Phils. The first batter he faced was Rod Barajas who picked a great time to earn his first hit as a Pirate with a double. Mike McKenry was brought in to pinch run and Clint Barmes sacrificed him over to third base. Later, with two outs in the inning, Presley continued to be the only Pirate with a hot bat by hitting a walk off single to even the series with the cross state rivals.

The Pirates and Phillies will play the rubber match of this opening weekend on Easter afternoon. After Sunday, the Pirates will begin a nine game road trip on the west coast.

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