Thursday, August 23, 2012

Game 124: Early free passes come back to bite James McDonald

At least when the Milwaukee Brewers used to dominate the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were actually good. You can't say the same about the San Diego Padres yet the same outcome has turned out. The Padres are 56-70 and are playing for nothing. They aren't making the playoffs. They won't even come close. They are not good. Yet, the Pirates finish with them by going 1-5 in six game including a sweep in San Diego. It's inexplicable and indefensible.

James McDonald was looking to build off a strong start his last time out in an attempt to regain his pre All-Star game form. While the outing as a whole wasn't horrible, the first inning was enough to set the tone for the rest of the game. McDonald walked the first three batters he saw in the game. Then with the bases loaded, Carlos Quentin missed hitting a grand slam by about a foot and it ended up being a two run double. Mark Kotsay followed with a sacrifice fly. The Padres scored first, in the first inning at that, in all three games of this series sweep.

Andrew Werner was called up to make his Major League debut after the scheduled starter, Ross Ohlendorf, was sent to the minors earlier in the week. The soft tossing left hander hardly looked dominant but he was as effective as he needed to be. He didn't give up his first run until the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen hit an infield single and advanced to second when Garrett Jones was walked in the following at bat. Pedro Alvarez delivered a two out single to put the Pirates on the board. However, the inning ended after Jones ran into an out at third base. Werner only gave up one more run in the game and it wasn't until the seventh inning when Gaby Sanchez hit his first home run as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While McDonald settled down after the first inning, he did surrender one more run in his five inning outing and it came in his last inning of work. Will Venable led off the inning with a double and Quentin struck again with an RBI single.

The Pirate bullpen once again was effective so it looks like for the most part, they are back to form. The only real exception would be earlier in the series when Chad Qualls gave up a run and Daniel McCutchen gave up a two run home run but neither one of those guys should be on the roster for much longer. Hopefully. The only issue is the starters are still struggling and the offense has struggled ever since McCutchen went into his slump. It all needs to turn around fast though. The St. Louis Cardinals took over the second wild card spot on Wednesday night.

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