Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Game 4: Pirates vs. Dodgers Recap

Two things have been constant in the infancy of the 2012 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their games have been extremely exciting. They have also been extremely predictable. Every game has featured excellent pitching by both sides. Every game has featured very little offense. And every game has had the game decided in the final innings. Tuesday was no different.

At the rate the Pirates are going, Opening Day has been the most anticlimactic ending at that was a one run game where no one scored until the seventh inning. Since then, they won the final two games of their opening series with walk off wins. Tuesday afternoon saw them lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers but the deciding run was not scored until the eighth inning.

The Pirates have started the season with a four man rotation with Charlie Morton and A.J. Burnett each rehabbing injuries in the minor leagues. Kevin Correia, an All-Star representative last season, is holding a spot before he is banished to the bullpen when those two return. He got his first start of the season looking to rebound from an abysmal second half of 2011 and it did not get off to a good start. Dee Gordon led off the first inning with a single and that is never good with his speed. He stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. Matt Kemp also grounded out which allowed Gordon to come in and score.

The early lead for the Dodgers was going to be tough to come back from since they were sending the reigning National League Cy Young winner to the mound in the form of Clayton Kershaw. He came as advertised, striking out seven batters in as many innings. The Pirates also didn't help themselves. In the second inning, Casey McGehee led off with a triple that Kemp seemed to lose in the sun in center field. However, Kershaw was able to strike out Matt Hague and Neil Walker before getting Rod Barajas to fly out to left field to end the inning.

That was the best chance that the Pirates would have to score until they finally broke through against the young south paw in the seventh inning. Alex Presley and Andrew McCutchen hit back to back singles to lead off the inning. McGehee followed with a flyout that Presley decided to tag on which was a questionable decision but it worked. Hague redeemed himself from earlier in the game with a groundout that brought Presley home.

One of the biggest questions coming into the season for the Pirates was who was going to pitch in the eighth inning. That question has yet to be answered and Tuesday's happenings will likely not make it any easier. Jason Grilli is one of the guys competing in the ongoing audition for the spot and he started off golden by striking out Mark Ellis and Kemp for the first two outs of the inning. Unfortunately, it takes three outs to end an inning. Grilli threw a breaking ball that broke right into the inside half of the plate against Andre Ethier and it was belted into the seats for the game winning run.

When you play a lot of low scoring games, the potential of the outcome going either way usually increases. All you have to do is look at the Pirates record to prove that. They are 2-2 and as of now the slugfest of the season has been the 5-4 game against the Phillies on Sunday. The best news to take right now is that the Pirates have gone through the rotation once and have gotten four quality starts. Erik Bedard will get his shot to keep that going on Wednesday night.

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