Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle managed like a fan in front of a sellout PNC Park crowd last night. .
In the top of the fourth, Yuniesky Betancourt’s two-run bomb was the fatal blow against the Bucs ace James McDonald. The Royals were up 3-0. McDonald looked nothing like the pitcher who had Pittsburgh buzzing. To the righty’s credit, he was able to dodge bigger damage, ala a veteran, and kept the strong hitting Royals to adding on.
The Bucs offense realized they needed to get to work for their ace and got to work in the bottom of the fourth.
Hurdle sensed what all the Buccos fans were feeling, James McDonald was having a rare off night. Hurdle knew what needed to be done. He liffted the Bucs ace for a pinch hitter with nobody out and the bases drunk. It was the right move, and a move that few Major League managers would make.
Hurdle relied on the Bucs bullpen to pick up McDonald. The Battling Buccos offense, with the help of the KC Monarchs unlucky defense, made some magic happen. It was only fitting after how well JMaKKK has pitched this season. On this night it was ugly for the Bucs starter who gave up three earned runs on five hits in four innings of work . He walked two and had just two punch outs.
Hurdle’s move to lift JMac led to a five run explosion (or implosion if youre a KC fan) for the Bucs in an inning that would make Little Leaguers turn their head in shame. When it was all done, the Bucco bullpen had a two run lead and five innings to go.
Chris Resop, Doug Slaten, Jared Hughes and Joel Hanrahan combined to put Pittsburgh within a game of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
Hughes/Tackleberry was especially impressive.
Once again, Hurdle pushed the right buttons. We bet it felt good. The Buccos bullpen just keeps delivering for their skipper. It’s really fun to watch. But we bet it was really fun for Hurdle. Especially against the franchise that took him with the ninth selection in the first round so many years ago.
JMac’s record remains at 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 73 strikeouts to go with 22 walks in 75.1 innings.
Jared Hughes was incredible. The Fox broadcast wasn’t–from shitty HD to making up history, their coverage is just putrid. It shouldn’t be difficult to determine Grilli was unavailable or to know that the Bucs hadn’t scored four or more runs in twelve straight. It’s night like these that we miss Lacee…seriously you guys.