Saturday, May 5, 2012

Game 27: Pirates vs. Reds Recap

Pitcher that can strike people out and hitters that can knock the ball out of the ball park. These are two things that the Pittsburgh Pirates have lacked for much of their two decades of losing. It is way too early to say that has changed but the chances of it changing sure do look better than they ever have. The Pirates evened their series with the Cincinnati Reds thanks to striking out a ton of batters and scoring all of their runs off of the long ball.

James McDonald started for the Pirates looking to go seven innings for the third game in a row. Keep in mind, McDonald only went seven innings twice all of last season. He didn't quite reach that mark in this game. But he did go 6 1-3 while striking out seven and four of those strikeouts came in the first two innings. The only run he gave up arguably shouldn't have even been charge against him. In the seventh inning, Jay Bruce hit what was ruled a triple on a ball that Andrew McCutchen misplayed in the outfield. He ended up coming in to score on a Scott Rolen single.

McDonald has his defense to thank for a lot of his success. At one point, the Pirates went three straight innings with a double play. One of those plays was particularly impressive in the fourth inning. Bruce grounded out to first base with Joey Votto on third. Votto broke for home and Casey McGehee touched the bag and fired home in time to nail Votto. Jose Tabata also made a nice catch on a deep fly ball hit by Votto in the sixth inning with two guys on base.

Pedro Alvarez finally was put into the clean up role in this game but he wasn't the one that provided the power for the Pirates' runs. Alvarez didn't have a hit in the game but he did walk twice as the pitchers for the Reds never seemed very interested in pitching to him. Instead, Neil Walker hit his first home run of the season after a Tabata double. Alex Presley provided the other run with his second home run of the season in the seventh inning after the Reds had cut the Pirates' lead in half.

The Pirates were able to run a normal rotation with the back end of their bullpen which is something they haven't been able to do much this season. Joel Hanrahan earned his fifth save of the season and the Pirates will look to take the series on Sunday afternoon.

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