Right outta the chute, we offer you a pair of apologies: First, we apologize for the lack of a game recap yesterday – it was a wholly depressing loss, anyway, so who the hell wants to spend time re-hashing that?
Secondly, there will be none of the awesome RumBunter photoshops that you have come to know, love and expect. Mainly [a] because Cocktailsfor2 does not have Photoshop installed on his computer in the first place, [b] because Cocktailsfor2 has the good sense not to pester his wife (who does have photoshop on her computer) into making some for him, and [c] because Kurt and Smitty do ‘em best, and we don’t want to jeopardize our job by making a really good one (if, somehow, we could get [b] above to even happen) and piss off the Boss, if you catch our drift…
RIGHT. That said, let’s talk about what a HELLUVA GAME that 9-1 drubbing of the Twinkies in the rubber game of the match was, shall we? Holy crap! This one, truth be told, wasn’t overly exciting (though there were certainly moments of excitement), but it sure as hell was FUN!
James McDonald? COMPLETE GAME VICTORY!
Rod “Zoltan” Barajas? 7th HR of the season!
Garrett “Manchild” Jones? A Happy-31st-Birthday dinger!
Pedro Alvarez? Another PedroBomb™ – which LEFT PNC ENTIRELY !!
We could leave it at that, and it probably would suffice. The Twins were never really in this game, and never really threatened, either; the Buccos jumped on Australian-born, rookie hurler Liam Hendriks for 4 runs in the first two innings, to ensure he continues to seek his first Major League win elsewhere.
Andrew McCutchen got things going in the bottom of the 1st with a two-out triple, and was knocked in by a Casey McGehee single to open the scoring.
A bobble by Twinkies’ SS Brian Dozier allowed Alex Presley to reach second on a sure out off the bat of Neil Walker, which left the bases at capacity until Cutch smacked his 13th double of the year to plate the three base runners and stake the Pirates to a 4-0 lead. Cutch would finish the game 3-for4, and he was left standing on-deck in the bottom of the 8th, a HR away from the cycle.
JMac cruised – truly cruised – through the first three innings, giving up only 2 hits and striking out 3. In the fourth, though, he gave up a run on a Trevor Plouffe double, followed by a seeing-eye single that barely got under Walker’s glove and scored Plouffe, who was running on contact (and if he hadn’t been, he would never have scored, as the ball didn’t go deep enough in to the outfield to plate him, as you can see in the video).
There wasn’t much more action until the bottom of the 6th ( baserunning gaffe by Morneau in the top half notwithstanding), when El Toro led off with a sharply-hit ball to center, followed by a Big Fly to the Northside Notch by Barajas, taking a 1-1 curveball and depositing it into the LF bleachers for his seventh home run and 17th & 18 RBI of the season. Zoltan’s homer also ended the night for pitcher Hendriks (5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R[3 ER] 3 K, 0 BB). The Aussie’s record moved to 0-4, but he actually lowered his ERA (from 7.83 to 7.39), thanks to Dozier’s miscue in the second, which made the 3 Pirates’ runs scored unearned…
McDonald breezed through the top of the 7th – Doumit with a weak-sister groundout to 2B, Dozier whiffing, Alexi Casilla popping out to SS – which had the broadcast booth (and twitter) wondering if JMac had enough juice to go the distance…
Bottom 7: Cutch greeted new Twins’ pitcher Jeff Manship with a single to left, bringing up Birthday Boy Jones, who drove a 90-mph, pecker-high pitch into the seats atop the Clemente Wall , making it 8-1 Buccos.
After a McGehee groundout, up stepped Pedro Alvarez, who… ah, hell… just watch this Sumbitch…
The only question that remained (other than “Why is that guy out there by the River with that ridiculously huge glove, and is Dan Potash actually going out there to interview him?”) after that was whether McDonald would notch his first complete game. A 1-2-3 top of the 8th, and JMac’s appearance in the on-deck circle as the Twins warmed up yet another pitcher (Jeff Gray) confirmed it, and the crowd delighted in watching McDonald fly out to CF, knowing he’d be back out on the mound to at least start the 9th.
Chris Parmelee greeted JMac with a single to RF that appeared to go foul over the first base bag (replays showed the ball to be fair), and Manager Clint Hurdle trotted out to discuss the fair/foul call with 1B ump Mike Estabrook, but really Hurdle wanted to give McDonald time to catch his breath and regain his composure, knowing full well that another hit would end his night. A fly out by Plouffe and a lineout by Doumit later, and James McDonald had reached his first complete game in the Major Leagues – a 1-run, 6-hit, 5-strikeout, ZERO-walk, 120-pitch (76 strikes), 9-groundout, 6-flyout, 33-batters faced BEAUTY.
We weren’t in the Pirates’ locker room, so we don’t have any quotes for you (and don’t feel like pilfering them from Singer), so we’ll just do what we’ve done this whole article – go to the video (courtesy MLB), and let JMac speak for himself.
36-32, second place - two games back of first, two games ahead of the 3rd place Cardinals, 4.5 ahead of the Boo-Hoo-ers, 6.5 ahead of the Disastros, and 12.5 ahead of the Schlubs…
…bring on Leyland’s Tigers.