Neil Walker came up big by blistering an eighth inning double to drive in Aki Iwamura. The Reds had gift wrapped a triple for Aki and Walker made them pay. Walker ripped a first pitch cutter into the corner and the guy who Pirates fans were screaming to come to the rescue delivered. He looked as if he would send Pirates fans into the streets for a May dance, but his hero status would have to wait at least for a night. Walker would settle for his first major league RBI.
And his first poor play when he was picked off second base with two outs and slumping Ryan Church at the plate.
Pirates reliver Joel Hanrahan had a slip in the bottom of the inning when he gave up a one-out homer to Brandon Phillips, his 100th of his career. Hanrahan bounced back with two strikeouts to increase his huge number of K’s to 29 in 18 innings pitched. The blunder tied the score and set the stage for Pirates offensive closer Ryan Doumit and actual closer Octavio Dotel.
Doumit didn’t disappoint. He crushed his fifth homer of the year, all in the eighth inning or later. This one was a blast into the right-center field seats off a 96-mile per hour heater from Nick Masset. It would be all the runs the Bucs needed on this night.
Three of Doumit’s homers have won games for the Bucs in this wild start of the 2010 season.
You can’t script it like that. Ryan Doumit
The Bucs hit rookie sensation Mike Leake to the tune of ten hits, the most the ASU phenom has allowed all season. Leake doesn’t do anything especially well other than keep the ball down, field the baseball like a pitcher’s Mazeroski, and hit like Rick Rhoden. The kid has a lot going for him.
But on this night, he couldn’t lead his team to a victory. Despite keeping the ball down, fielding like Mazeroski, he didn’t hit like Rhoden and his team didn’t hit Pirates starter Paul Maholm especially well either. Maholm threw 89 pitches in his seven innings, gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two. Thanks to the Pirates efforts, Leake missed breaking the record of that Reds one year wonder in the post below. He wouldn’t get to five wins on this night, thanks to the late innings heroics of the Pirates.
Maholm was fired up, as we thought he would be. The left hander seems to be the most mentally tough of any Pirates pitcher. He lowered his ERA to below 4 with his efforts last night.
Octavio Dotel closed the door on the Reds in the ninth. We are off to celebrate!
Walker needs five more RBI to catch Bobby Crosby, six more RBI to catch Jeff Clement and seven more RBI to catch Aki Iwamura.
Doumit’s blast leads off the video highlights
From Dejan. John Russell speaks about Neil Walker:
“We’ll use him a lot of ways,” manager John Russell said. “And he’ll start sometimes.” John Russell on Neil Walker
The always quotable Walker chimed in with Dejan:
“For me, I don’t care if it’s left field, rover, if I have to catch, I just want to help this team win in whatever form I can. I’m happy to be here.” Neil Walker
Does this seem to be Walker’s anthem or what? He looked nervous. Surely, he saw the catcher flash the sign a pitch before the pick. He was taking a massive lead. Rhodes stepped off. Walker snapped back to reality, it was just a few seconds too late. Maybe, he should have just ran to third as he said in the post-game. But there is no question, Neil. You get one shot. Especially on this team. Knock ‘em dead.