We really thought Jeff Karstens would roll through this Phillies lineup tonight. So much so that we declared it on twitter before the game:
Karstens didn’t pitch poorly in the first, but was a victim of the bad luck that was reported here earlier in some excellent work by Jon. The Bucs right hander jumped ahead 0-2 on Shane Victorino to leadoff the game. He just missed (?) inside and then missed inside again to make it a full count on the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.” Victorino then lined a single into right field. The Phillies 3B Placido Polanc0 doinked a low 1-0 slider into left center for a single, putting Phillies in business with runners on first and second.
Jimmy Rollins bunted the first pitch to Casey McGehee at third to move the runners up, setting the table for Hunter Pence.
With Laynce Nix in the on-deck circle, Pence battled Karstens while crowding the plate. After catcher Rod Barajas came out to hand-deliver the baseball to the right hander, Karstens threw a soft curveball. It looked like Pence was fooled on a 1-2 pitch, but he reached out over the plate and flicked the curveball just past Karstens, and directly to Neil Walker who was on the shortstop side of second base.
It was good for an infield hit, and scored Victorino to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
That was all the Phillies offense would produce. Karstens buckled down. He whiffed Nix. John Mayberry followed and fell behind 0-2 before flying out on a 92-mph Karstens heater.
The zombienation showed up in full force for Karstens. The Pirates had their first ever back-to-back sellouts in the first two games of the season. (And you thought Pittsburgh wasn’t a baseball town!)
In the sixth inning, Yamaico Navarro did a nice job at the plate to get a walk and eventually came around to score on a rare Cliff Lee wild pitch. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz made a nice toss to Lee in plenty of time to tag Navarro, but the Phillies lefty failed to catch the ball, and the game was tied.
Following Karstens’ departure after six solid innings, the Bucs got nice work from their bullpen as Tony Watson, Jason Grilli, and Joel Hanrahan pitched a scoreless inning each. The combination held the Phillies, and would give up no hits and just two base runners, on walks by Hanrahan.
Juan Cruz pitched the tenth and gave up a pair of hits, but whiffed Pence with two outs and Phillies on first and second. It is starting to look like Cruz will be the 2012 version of Jose Veras, as he has now appeared in both games for the Bucs.
After the scoreless tenth inning by Cruz, the Bucs Rod Barajas foiled his old mates by blasting a double three inches shy of being a walk off bomb. After Barajas fell just short of being the hero, Clint Hurdle sent out Mike McKenry as the pinch runner — much to the delight of our buddies at the bar.
Clint Barmes laid down a perfect bunt that looked like it would be an infield single after some miscommunication, but the Bucs shortstop was thrown out at first. With McKenry now at third, Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch – or it might have been a sniper shot, after watching the replay.
Jose Tabata, who seemed to be swinging at anything Phillies pitchers threw near him thus far, disappointingly popped out. With expectations reduced, and two away, Alex Presley’s walk up music of Mötley Crüe blared through the PNC Park speakers.
Kickstart our hearts, Alex Presley. Hell – kickstart our season like you have been doing all year long (yeah, we know it is just two games in, jerk. Shaddap. )
Presley delivered. Of course, it wasn’t like any walkoff you have seen before…. yeah, in case you missed it, Presley hit a ground ball to Rollins at short. Despite Rollins’ strong throw, it wasn’t enough to get the Pirates speedy left-fielder.
When I get high, I get high on speed.
Raise it. And welcome to the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball season. Sing it, Vince.