What a whacked out season the Pittsburgh Pirates are having. It continued last night as the Pittsburgh Pirates shutout the L.A. Dodgers 2-0. You might be just waking up this morning, but I swear to God
While you were dreaming about the Pirates solving their pitching problems, Brian Burres was battling threw the talented L.A. lineup. It was far from pretty but Burres pitched 5.1 scoreless innings to shutdown the Dodgers. Two Pirates pitchers worked the other 3.2 innings and were perfect. Yeh, perfect. That’s correct…Pirates pitchers and the word perfect in the same sentence.
Jack Taschner was impressive in the middle of the game and Evan Meek got his first career save. The Dodgers were held to just four hits. Your Pittsburgh Pirates are in third place. Before Meek could close out the game, he had to wait for the L.A. security team to wrangle up a fan who had ran onto the field. We are still awaiting word to determine if it was an overzealous Pirates fan that stormed the field one out early, simply confused by the new found success of the Pirates pitching staff. We never did see him so perhaps he was streaking? The Bucs have won three games in a row.
More strange things from last night? Meek said on the FSN postgame show that he was told by Octavio Dotel to be ready because Dotel had the night off. Heh, that makes some sense actually.
So you didn’t expect to see a pitcher’s duel? You didn’t think Burres would be the first Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to throw a scoreless five+ innings? Hell, just think about Burres, who had lost his last eight decisions in the majors, getting the win while becoming the first major league pitcher this season to do so despite throwing more balls than strikes. I LOVE L.A. Here is the recap from the freak show for your enjoyment. Promise me you will keep your clothes on ok?
First Inning: The Bucs will get all the runs they will need when Lastings Milledge led off the game with a walk against Clayton Kershaw. Andy LaRoche, batting .380, worked the count full. He got a second chance when he fouled off a pitch in and out of LA catcher Russell Martin’s glove. LaRoche took ball four on the next pitch which brought out LA pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt.
Andrew McCutchen struckout on a check swing. Kershaw got Cutch on an off speed pitch down in the strike zone. Kershaw then got Garrett Jones to strikeout on a fastball inside and down in the zone.
Ryan Doumit ripped a single to center field and it went under the backhanded glove of Matt Kemp, Ned Colletti (Dodgers owner) deserves to be rough on Kemp. The center fielder, Kemp charged the ball rather than playing back on it and it rolled to the fence allowing both Milledge and LaRoche to score. Doumit was awarded a triple on the Kemp misplay increasing his hitting streak to nine games.
Brian Burres dominated the first inning. Yeh, I said dominated. I nearly shit myself. He got Russell Martin to ground out to LaRoche, Garret Anderson struckout, and Burres sawed off Kemp for the final out on a comebacker to the mound. Kemp looked like a clown.
Second inning: Bobby Crosby flew out to LF. Burres struckout on a 2-2 pitch. Ronny Cedeno, whose average has dropped to .222, struckout swinging to end the inning.
Andre Ethier grounded out to second baseman Crosby. Burres was coming right after the LA hitters until Casey Blake stepped to the plate. Burres missed away on the first three pitches until he battled back to make the count full. Blake hit it solid but it was held up in the stiff LA wind for McCutchen to grab in CF for the second out. James Loney hit a hopper over the mound that Cedeno fielded behind second base and threw to Clement for the final out.
After two innings Pirates 2, Dodgers 0.
Third inning: Milledge grounded out to second base. LaRoche struckout. McCutchen grounded out to short.
Burres worked quickly to get Carroll, but Blake DeWitt ripped a single over the glove of Bobby Crosby into right field. GFJ let it bounce under his glove. Jones was charged with an error and Blake burned around the base paths to third.
An obviously hacked off Burres would then walk the Dodgers pitcher, Kershaw, on four pitches. On a 2-2 count, Russell Martin drilled a line drive of the right hip of DeWitt who was standing in foul territory at third base. DeWitt shook it off. On the next pitch, Doumit blocked a wild pitch and the ball rolled to his left. Kershaw broke for second and Doumit gunned him down on a bang bang play. It was the second runner Doumit has thrown out this season. And it was huge. Martin then hit a sharp grounder that LaRoche fielded and fired across the diamond for the final out of the inning.
Fourth inning: GFJ ground out. Doumit used the wind to his advantage on a blooper toward center that faded and fell to the right of a hustling, diving Kemp in shallow right center field. Doumit stole second and the Dodgers followed by intentionally walking Crosby to get to Clement. The first baseman popped up in the infield. Burres came to the plate with one hit in his career. It didn’t improve.
The Dodgers got rolling in the third. With second and third and one out, LA Blue was poised to put up a crooked number. The Bucs got two outs before the Dodgers loaded the bases, and LaRoche speared the third out to end the rally.
Fifth inning: Cedeno popped up to centerfield. Milledge popped out to the catcher. LaRoche crushed a ball into the wind and it was caught by Kemp in CF. Kershaw was cruising.
With Garrett Jones playing way over toward center field, DeWitt drilled a single into right field. By the time Jones reached the ball, DeWitt had reached second base standing as Crosby cut off the Jones throw.
Kershaw attempted to move DeWitt to third with a sac bunt, but it was hit directly to Burres who looked back DeWitt holding him at second before firing to Clement for the first out. Burres got a huge strikeout of Martin and then made a huge pitch to get Anderson to pop out to LaRoche who caught the ball in foul territory to end the inning.
Sixth inning: McCutchen grounded out. Garrett Jones worked a full count before crushing a gap shot to left center that was knocked down by the wind. Kemp reached it quickly holding GFJ to a single.
Doumit came to the plate looking for his third hit of the game and batting .464 during his nine-game hitting streak. Doumit struckout on a breaking ball, swinging right over top of the pitch. Kershaws’ 108th pitch of the night retired Jeff Clement on a ground out to shortstop.
Cedeno speared the first out of the inning, a soft liner off the bat of Matt Kemp. Burres then issued back-to-back walks and that was it for Burres who had pitched 5.1 innings, allowed four hits, no earned runs and four walks.
LHP Jack Taschner came in to make his tenth appearance with a nice 12/3 strikeout to walk ratio. Taschner did his job and got a ground ball. LaRoche bobbled it, forcing him to forego the thoughts of the double play and get the lone at first base. It would all turn out ok as Taschner forced yet another groundball which Andy fielded cleanly and fired to Clement to end the threat.
Seventh inning: Crosby flew out on a flare to second base. In a key at-bat, Taschner worked the count beautifully and earned the walk. More importantly, the patience shown by Taschner produced an additional benefit as Kershaw was lifted after the base on balls. His pitch count had reached 117.
Troncosco came on in relief and struckout Cedeno looking. On a 3-1 pitch, Milledge lined a single up the middle. It would set the stage for white hot LaRoche as runners were on first and second, but they were stranded when Andy flew out to CF.
Taschner struckout DeWitt on a nasty breaking ball down in the zone. Reed Johnson pinch hit for Troncosco. He came off the mound quickly, and speared a high hopper to his left. He took a few steps and tossed the ball to Clement. A grounder to LaRoche at third base kept Taschner perfect and with the score still 2-0 Bucs the Pirates would send the heart of their order to the plate in the eighth inning.
Eighth inning: LHP Hong-Chih Kuo got McCutchen to groundout by a quarter step in a very close play. Cutch can fly. It was a routine groundball to the left of the third baseman DeWitt. Jones grounded out to second base. Doumit struckout.
Taschner got a popout to Crosby in shallow right field, a groundout to Cedeno, and one more out.
Fast forward to the Ninth Inning: Evan Meek had a quick 1-2-3 ninth. Is he the new closer? We said it was a strange game. The idea of Meek being the closer would make too much sense.