Friday, August 17, 2012
Game 118: Two home runs from Garrett Jones carry the Bucs to a much needed win
The St. Louis Cardinals had pulled to a tie in the wild card standings and the Pittsburgh Pirates were on the verge of falling victim to a four game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their only hope to right the ship was supposed to come in the form of A.J. Burnett. But Burnett wasn't himself in this game. He ate innings and held the lead that his offense gave him but it was far from his best start.
Typically, if you give Burnett a lead early in the game, it doesn't go away. And that's just what the Pirates did. Garrett Jones hit his first of two home runs on the day in the first inning to give Burnett an early 3-0 lead. But Burnett gave up that lead which is par for the course considering the way things have gone lately. He surrendered that lead by the fourth inning when Hanley Ramirez hit a two run home run. I didn't see it but apparently Ramirez showed Burnett up. Well, Burnett would get his revenge later.
The worst thing that I missed of this game was the tying run where Rod Barajas scored from first on a triple by Clint Barmes. It's always endlessly hilarious to see Barajas truck around the bases. It's also fun to see people act shocked when Barmes does something good even though he's hitting .325 in the month of August.
Jones hit his second three run home run of the game in the fifth inning and received a much deserved curtain call from the fans at PNC Park. Later in the inning, Pedro Alvarez busted out of his recent power outage with a home run to straight away center field. I mentioned on Twitter before the Dodgers series that every time people start to count the Pirates out, Alvarez goes on one of his crazy home run tears. Hopefully this is the start of one because it would be perfect timing.
If the home runs weren't enough, the best part of the game happened to end the sixth inning. Burnett faced Ramirez with two outs in the inning and struck him out. Ramirez tossed his bat and got into a conversation with home plate umpire Angel Campos. While that was going on, Burnett yelled to Ramirez, "Sit the [expletive] down, sit down!" It was awesome.
The Dodgers mounted a comeback off of Burnett in the seventh inning. Burnett loaded the bases with two outs before falling victim to some back luck when a ball hit by Matt Ellis deflected off of him and pulled Gaby Sanchez too far off of the bag at first base to make the play. That brought home a run and then Burnett hit Juan Rivera with a pitch to bring home another. That was it for Burnett and Tony Watson came in and shut the threat down.
The Pirates got the runs back on a two run single by Barmes in their half of the inning. It was a much needed win. I hate to say it was a must win when there are 50 games left in the season but it was close. They also got some help from the Arizona Diamondbacks who beat the Cardinals so the Pirates find themselves back in the playoff picture. It sets up for a huge weekend series in St. Louis and it all starts with a struggling James McDonald. God help us.