Ross Ohlendorf deserved better. He labored. He excruiated sweat. He battled and so did the Pirates who had at least one runner on base every inning for what seemed like an eternity. But the Bucs failed to send any more runs across the plate other than those provided by Garrett Freaking Jones. GFJ staked Ohlendorf to an early three run lead when he hit his third bomb of the year in the first inning. It was setup after a walk by Aki Iwamura and a single ripped through the hole by Andrew McCutchen. The Bucs couldn’t push any more runs across for the next nine innings.
The 31,000 plus in attendance were active throughout the game as the Pirates bullpen repeatedly dodged bullets. The crowd endured double digit walks, excrutiatingly long innings, and something like 24 runners left on base through ten innings. It created some serious baseball addiction. This game will do nothing but sell future tickets for my favorite ball club. Damn that makes me feel good. Screw you Pirates haters. Keep making jokes about the Bucs.
Before the recap, we must give a hat tip to the Bucs sales team. They did it again. I certainly trust Bob Nutting and Frank Coonelly realize the talent they have in their sales office. Remember, a one dollar ticket is cool, but the majority of those fans in attendance were groups this evening who paid much more than a buck. A few of them came to the walk up window long after the one dollar tickets were gone. I trust they understand that buying tickets online is really, really easy.
Ohlendorf and his deliberate windup must have him thinking about runners on base. He spent a considerable amount of time keeping runners close. I lost count at ten pickoff attempts to first base. His pickoff is great move. One can tell he works extremely hard at it.
Ohlendorf threw 27 pitches in the brutal fifth inning. A throwing error on 3B Andy LaRoche did nothing to help Ohlendorf. It was an easy hop off the bat of Furcal, but LaRoche thought about it too long and his throw sailed wide. Jeff Clement did a nice job in saving the extra base, by coming off the bag to make the catch. ( I swear it seems like last April all over again for LaRoche. How bad is it when we notice Clement making a play like that at first?)
I was impressed by Ohlendorf who shook off the throwing error and really focused to get out of it later in the inning. Ohlendorf got Ethier to fly out to Andrew McCutchen in front of the warning track in left center field. His pitch count had reached 91 pitches and it would be all for Ohlie.
Clayton Kershaw’s pitch count was also elevated by the Bucs. LaRoche worked the sixth walk off Kershaw to load the bases and chase Kershaw in the fifth. The leftie had thrown 109 pitches in 4.2 innings and struck out four Pirates. Spring training hero Delwyn Young came on to pinch hit for Ohlendorf.
Ross threw five innings and allowed four hits, two earned runs (the unearned was thanks to LaRoche), struckout one, but walked three.
The Bucs best pinch hitter last year, DY came to the plate in a crucial situation with two outs to face veteran Jeff Weaver. Young failed to come through and the Bucs left the bases loaded when Weaver got Young to pop out on the first pitch. Kershaw was off the hook.
The Bucs had left eight runners on base through the first five innings. Sure it’s a bad thing, but you know what, not many experts gave us a shot at this game. I was happily frustrated….is that a sentence?
Evan Meek came on in the sixth. The 26-year old right hander got the leadoff hitter to lineout to Cedeno. He then walked Blake DeWitt and fell behind Russell Martin three balls and no strikes. Martin had homered off Ohlendorf earlier. Meek got him to groundout to Cedeno who couldn’t get Martin because he was running on the pitch. Garrett Anderson came up with the go ahead runner, DeWitt, in scoring position. Anderson had a pinch hit off Donnelly in the opener on Monday. The 16 year veteran has a 295 career average and Meek threw him plenty of off speed breaking balls before getting him to ground back to the mound.
In the sixth, Russ Ortiz, a former 21 game winner, gave up a lead off hit to Ronny Cedeno. But after Iwamura worked the count, Ortiz got Iwamura to ground into a 1-6-3 double play. McCutchen went down swinging on a 90 mph heater to end the sixth.
Meek walked Furcal to start the seventh inning. It was the fifth walk of the game for the Bucs. Furcal got a great jump and stole his second base of the night to put him in scoring postion with nobody out. Kemp, who had doubled in his last at-bat, had worked a 2-1 count. A moving 90 mph heater thrown away evened the count. Meek then got Kemp to look like a fool on a nasty breaking pitch for the first out. Meek was then lifted by Pirate manager John Russell for Javier Lopez.
On the first pitch, Lopez got Ethier to bounce back to the mound bringing up Manny who was walked. Lopez would get out of it when he got Loney to bounce out to SS Cedeno. Lopez doesn’t have much heat, he simply used nice location and a slick arm slot to get through the heart of the L.A. lineup.
After Jones tapped back to Ortiz on the mound, Ryan Doumit ripped a singled into right center. Lastings Milledge blistered the first pitch to Loney who dove to catch the rocket and tagged Doumit for the final out. The Dodgers escaped and the game went to the eighth still tied at three.
DJ Carrasco got the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the eighth thanks to a diving grab by Milledge in left after Carrasco hung a breaking pitch.
George Sherrill pitched the eighth. Clement lead off the inning with a strikeout, making it three for the night. LaRoche walked. Bobby Crosby bucked one off the handle for the second out and Ronny Cedeno stranded LaRoche with an ugly strikeout.
Octavio Dotel spent some time shaking off Ryan Doumit after Carroll had reached third with nobody out in the ninth. Carroll had reached on a double when Cutch nearly missed making a diving catch. But the real story was Dotel, he would shake off Doumit twice and throw a heater. Shake him twice and throw a breaking ball. It was interesting to say the least.
Fast forward to two outs, Manny came up to the plate. Gulp.
Ramirez has never earned a hit off his local Santa Domingian (is that a word?) going zero for seven. Dotel made it zero for eight forcing Manny into a groundout to Aki to end the threat.
After one out in the Pirates ninth, McCutchen got another infield single (he had 22 last year), bringing Jones to the plate with a loud “Let’s Go Bucs” chant echoing from the stands. Jones kept seeing a steady diet of pitches away. McCutchen drew two throws, but was never able to steal second which would have been crucial. Jones popped out to Manny in left. Ryan Doumit would ground to second to end the inning and send the game to extra innings. Damn it would have been nice to see Cutch steal that bag.
Brendan Donnelly walked the lead off batter, Loney in the tenth. It was the sixth time in ten innings the Dodger blue had their leadoff man on base. Blake sacrificed Loney to second and then got DeWitt to pop out to third on a 1-1 count. Martin
Milledge led off the tenth with a hustling infield single off Ortiz. Clement moved Milledge to second on a beautiful bunt, his second in his career ( that drove sabermatricians everywhere crazy) LaRoche earned his third straight walk to bring up Ryan Church. The Bucs had runners on first and second and Church quickly got out to a 2-0 count which brought out Rick Honeycutt to speak with the Dodgers infield.
The next pitch by Ortiz was a ball making it three and ohhhh. Remember, there was still one out. Church was taking the whole way and Ortiz dropped an off speed pitch for a strike and then followed that up with ball four.
Church continued his revival. Cheap plug for the post located below.
Ronny Cedeno came up with the crowd on its’ feet and the bases juiced. He fell behind 0-2 with two big swings and misses. He battled back between foul balls and showed patience getting the count to 2-2. It was a great at bat and the crowd appreciated it. The deep breaths were evident as foul balls continued to drop into the fans laps. Cedeno ripped the velcro off his batting gloves and dug back inthe box for the ninth pitch of the at bat.
Cedeno dug in and delivered a single into left field for the walkoff.
The crowd deserved it. The Pirate haters deserved it. Pittsburgh is Pirate crazy. Hip bumps were all over the diamond. Go Bucks.