Andrew McCutchen said it best, “we gave that game away…” Thus, after the Pittsburgh Pirates all but gift wrapped a 4-3 victory to the St. Louis Cardinals, I think it’s the way a team can recover from such an awful game. It wasn’t a loss of the “Brewers Beat Down” variety, but a mental loss. Those can linger, especially just one night after Lastings Milledge had an epic fail, it appeared the Pirates set out to top the Milledge gaffe all over the diamond.
They Pirates succeded mightily.
The Pirates gave the Cards all the runs they would need by blunders, gaffes, errors, mental breakdowns, and poor execution. In all, the Cards received four runs via six extra outs. Spotting a team the caliber of the Cardinals runs is not the formula for winning.
It appeared to be a tee ball game at certain times.
Andrew McCutchen, still hitting in the three spot in the order, was three for four with a run scored. He just missed getting a homer when the ball slammed off the fence.
Zach Duke was remarkable. He received very little defensive support while he stuckout seven, walked two, and allowed ZERO earned runs.
Albert Pujols struckout, lined out, popped out twice, and flew out on a good slider from Evan Meek to make it an 0-for-5 day. Pujols owns PNC Park. Tonight, that was a remarkable effort by the Pirates staff.
Ryan Church has a good arm. Ryan Doumit has a nice angle, a big leg, and ensures that the Bucs scoring differential remains in the eight track era. The play also prevented the Cards from going up two runs in the seventh inning. [Video of Church throw and Doumits' plate block]
We are limiting our coverage to just one situation that felt like a dagger in the neck. It was the ninth inning, Meek had just got Pujols to fly out to Ryan Church on a nasty slider. It was the first out of the inning. The video of Pujols in the dugout oozed frustration.
Matt Holliday ripped Meek’s first pitch into right field. It was the fifth time he was on base. He was four for five. The first inning error, well we aren’t going to talk about that. Holliday was lifted for pinch runner Joe Mather who must have been deep in the clubhouse as LaRussa and his staff had to search for him for what seemed like an eternity on camera. Mather finally appeared, hat backwards, a certain panic in his movements like when one realizes that everyone in the dugout is thinking, “where the hell was he?”
Mather composed himself, grabbed a helmet from the rack and trotted to first base. Meek nearly picked Mather off when he was leaning, in fact Mather flinched toward second on the pickoff. The details are very important as Mather was about to deliver a blow to the psyche that the Pirates just couldn’t recover from in this game.
Evan Meek had reached an 0-2 count on David Freese who is one of the hottest hitters in the league currently. The score was tied at three. Meek walked off the back of the mound, perhaps catching his breath as he was in his second inning of work. A pitchout to Ryan Doumit proved nothing was on for the Cardinal pinch runner Mather.
The TV cameras then showed Pirates coach Gary Varsho making a sign by touching his right finger to his chin, left finger to his upper lip, then his left ear, he raised his right hand to his chin, nose, chin, right ear, and then back to the chin. It worked. Meek fired a slider and struckout Freese. Two outs.
Yadier Molina came to the plate on a three for four tear for the Cardinals. The Pirates called a pitchout. Pirates catcher Doumit fired a strike to Aki Iwamura at second base. The beautiful slide by Mather allowed him to get the key steal. On his headfirst slide, Mather pulled his left hand back as Aki attempted to apply the tag and Mather slid his right hand onto the bag.
On a 2-0 count, Molina kissed his gold chain, an apparent sign of thankful realization that he should be putting on his catchers’ gear rather than getting another whack at putting the Cardinals up in the ninth inning. The Pirates had opened the door once again for the Cardinals. And as they did all night, the Cardinals made it hurt.
Kissing the shiny gold chain worked, as Molina laid off a slider in the dirt. On a 3-1 count, Molina ripped the go-ahead RBI into right center field as Meek elevated the pitch, up in the zone.
Meek would eventually strike out Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin. It didn’t happen without a visit to the mound by Doumit. The Pirates catcher watched the Cardinals steal third and then second on successive pitches. It was quick, but effective meeting in a tense situation. But Doumit said something because Meek had to collect his thoughts off the mound for a moment. The conversation ended and Meek struck out Franklin.
But the Pirates were not able to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Hopefully the Pirates aren’t in the holiday spirit too often, too early this year. Awfully difficult loss.
In the ninth inning, Jeff Clement snapped his 0-for-19 slide when he blisstered a 2-2 pitch from Ryan Franklin into the center field grass.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma made it to the ball yard tonight. He officially was shown on tv with his rally cap on in the ninth inning. When he reached for his blackberry and started to review the screen, LaRoche flew out for the final Pirates out. So all these mistakes tonight are Fleury’s fault.
The eight hits given up by Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter were the most he allowed all season.
It was the bullpens first ‘loss’ and the Pirates pen were the last team to take a loss this season.
An angry female Pirates fan on Extra Innings said:
’that second baseman, Aki, he needs to go back to Japan!’ As always, Rocco responded with his razor sharp wit, ‘Deportation???@!”
Hilarious radio as always. Extra Innings best season ever.
What wasn’t hilarious was the lack of hustle by Aki. Why does he get a free pass? The highest paid player on the team is blowing it. Meanwhile, Neil Walker does his thing in Indy. I can’t confirm this, but in Neal Huntingtons’ radio show last week, I swore I heard him call out Walker on his “maturity.” Really? It’s about maturity now. Load of shit.
You are probably shaking your head from the game about now, so….why not go get a great laugh at Will Ferrell pitching in a AAA game. Seriously. We did a post over at Call to the Pen on the videos that were sent to create the buzz around his signing. Just check it out, we don’t disappoint. Ferrell steals the show. It was all for a great cause too.