Sunday, April 8, 2012

Game 3: Pirates vs. Phillies Recap

With the way last season went, Pedro Alvarez hitting a home run into the river would normally be the biggest story coming out of any game. That was not the case on Easter Sunday when the Pittsburgh Pirates concluded their opening series with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Bucs made their walk off win on Saturday night look dull by completing the same feat to cap off an even more impressive comeback.

The game started off almost identical to the previous game. James McDonald started and labored through the first inning. Shane Victorino singled and later advanced to second on a groundout. Hunter Pence hit a two out double into left field to score Victorino and give the Phillies the early lead. In the fourth inning, Pence came up again and hit a monster home run for his first of the season. Luckily for the Pirates, it was of the solo variety.

Alvarez's towering home run led off the fifth inning for the Pirates to cut the lead for the Phillies to just one run. But the Phillies were able to extend their lead to three runs in the seventh inning. McDonald was pulled in favor of Jared Hughes despite having only thrown 82 pitches through six innings. Hughes walked the first batter he saw. Freddy Galvis attempted a sacrifice bunt. Hughes fielded the bunt and threw to first base where Neil Walker totally missed the ball which allowed Ty Wiggington to advance to third and Galvis to second with no outs. Hughes seemingly recovered by recording two outs while stranding the two runners in scoring position. The error came back to haunt him though because Juan Pierre singled to score both runs.

The Pirates began their rally in their half of the seventh inning off of Michael Stutes who was brought on in relief of Vance Worley. Stutes recorded three outs in order. However, Alvarez reached first base safely after he struck out on pitch in the dirt because of an error at first base. That allowed for Casey McGehee to double off of the top of the Clemente Wall to score Alvarez. Alex Presley continued his hot hitting to start the season with a single to score McGehee and cut the Philadelphia lead to one run.

The rally carried over into the eighth inning for the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the inning. Nate McLouth was called on to pinch hit for the pitcher's spot so Charlie Manuel brought in left handed reliever Antonio Bastardo to face him. Clint Hurdle called McLouth back in favor of Yamaico Navarro. Navarro walked and after the second out was recorded, Matt Hague came on to pinch hit for Alvarez. Hague delivered with his first hit in the major leagues to tie the game at four.

Instead of going to his closer with a tie game in the ninth, Manuel decided to turn to David Herndon to pitch the ninth. McGehee led off the inning with a double into the notch in left field. Presley followed with a sacrifice bunt to get Josh Harrison to third who came in to pinch run. Jose Tabata struck out to put the fate of the game in McCutchen's hands. Instead of pitching around McCutchen, Herndon pitched to him and would regret it. With the count full, McCutchen hit a ball deep off of the wall in center field to give the Pirates their second straight walk off win over the cross state rivals.

After an electric 2-1 start to the season, the Pirates will begin a nine game west coast road trip on Tuesday when they face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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