Brody Smith makes the PNC Park scoreboard.

Wanderful Wandy Rodriguez: Thank You, Houston Astros

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Wandy Rodriguez. Wow. I’m still a bit frozen, but not nearly as badly as the Chicago Cubs hitters were on numerous occassions. Rodriguez cruised over six-plus innings and allowed only two hits. The Pirates Tony Watson bailed out his Buccos fellow southpaw from a harrowing seventh inning bases loaded jam. Jason Grilli debuted his new entrance video, and then posted two strikeouts to get his first save of the 2013 season.

When Rodriguez was acquired last season, it was viewed in two ways. Theory one: the Bucs didn’t trust their own young pitching talent. Theory two: it’s hard to pass up a workhorse like Rodriguez when the Bucs were riding high.

In essence, the Pirates went for it in their own way.  (And the Houston Astros are picking up a big chunk of his paycheck!)  But we think anytime a southpaw of Rodriguez’s skill set can pitch at PNC Park, it’s a big plus. We predicted Wandy would be the Bucs All-Star representative this season, and his work last night is a nice start toward that end.

In the fourth inning, Andrew McCutchen gave the Buccos all the offense they would need.  Cutch ripped a double down the left field line on a full count slider from Edwin Jackson (he refused to throw Cutch a fastball) that plated Garrett Jones , who scored without a throw.

Rodriguez kept Anthony Rizzo off balance most of the night, splintering a bat along the way.  But in the seventh inning, Wandy came way inside and plunked Rizzo (and another Cub, eventually), loading the bases.  He threw a  crucial full count breaking ball that seemed up a bit, but catcher Russell Martin got the Bucs the strikeout call.

Wandy Rodgriguez reacts to hitting Anthony Rizzo in the seventh inning at PNC Park.

Tony Watson came to the rescue.  I fully admit I wondered why.  But without the work from Tony Watson, Wandy’s final line wouldn’t have been clean.

Watson was awful this spring as he worked on mechanics, and his velocity was down in comparison with his brief  history as a pro. When he went three balls and no strikes with the bases juiced and the Bucs clinging to a tight lead, the frozen fans at PNC had to wonder what Clint Hurdle was thinking: Why Watson in such a difficult assignment?

Watson battled back from the 3-0 count and made the Bucs skipper look like a genius as he left the bases drunk.

As it should be, the Bucs pitching has been strong through two games against the Cubs.   We can’t thank Houston enough for their support.

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