Pittsburgh Pirates BDR: Golden Gate Abridged


The subtitle of this Pittsburgh Pirates Back Deck Report is “The Golden Gate Abridged” because this BDR is abridged, in a sense. What do I mean, exactly? Well, the first pitch of the first two games of the series happens at 10:10 pm EST, and the third game commences during the workday. Therefore, this BDR is mostly colorfully rehashed box scores. Riveting, huh?

Actually, I wasn’t planning on writing a BDR for this late-night series. However, I didn’t want to waste the clever title.

Clint Hurdle has led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a fifth consecutive winning May. In the last four years, the May-June stretch has been when the Bucs have greased their bats and surged in the standings. Last year, on May 21, the team was eight games below .500 in May. This is the time when the season really began to turn. Perhaps the same thing is happening this year. As a fan, I’ve become so accustomed to the perennial early-summer upwelling of the Hurdle-era Bucs, I expect nothing less this year.

(Appropriately enough, this fantastic Grantland articlele — It Must Be June: The Pirates Are Good Again — tackles similar ground. Did you know that Fransisco Cervelli is leading the league in runs saved via pitch framing?)

After a split with the Padres, the Pirates headed north to the Bay Area to fire the assault rifle in which some scuzzy hippie had placed a daffodil. That’s right: these are perfect days to empty the chambers from the batter’s box on the defending World Series champs and currently second-place in the NL West, San Francisco Giants.

A quick note – house shopping is the pits. There’s a scene in Rocky II when Rocky and Adrianne are being shown a house. Rocky jabbers on-and-on as the real estate agent leads the couple through the living room, at which point Rocky stops, points to the window, and says, “Hey Adrianne! That right there is a good spot for a radio.”

More from Pirates News

My wife and I were shown a house last night. However, the place was sans back deck. In other words, there was no good spot for a radio.

Game 1:

Bucs 4, Giants 3

I missed the majority of the game, and I didn’t take notes. Normally, I scribble three pages of notes for every game. Thank goodness for MLB.com, box scores, and three-minute video wraps.

I know this much: Andrew McCutchen must feel like he walked under a ladder within the path of a black cat on Friday the Thirteenth. Cutch batted twice with the bases loaded. His first at-bat produced in a well-struck deep fly ball that was magically shagged by a sliding Angel Pagan (I love that name, especially if you pronounce “Angel” like the heavenly flying kind, and “Pagan” like the dancing around a bonfire, incantation-chanting kind). The catch was stunning. McCutchen’s second at-bat also produced a fly ball, albeit a lazier one, that was snagged by a sliding Hunter Pence. Two bases-clearing doubles became two sac flies. At least Cutch smiled and laughed in spite of his bad luck. Or perhaps he was manic and delusional because of his bad luck. Either is entertainment.

Conversely, Gerritt Cole pitched like he wore a necklace of rabbit feet. He tossed seven innings to the tune of zero earned runs and nine strike-outs. By game’s end, his ERA had dropped to 1.90, and his record rose to 8-2, tying him for the league’s most wins. In short, Cole has been among baseball’s élite pitchers in 2015.

Try following Cole’s two-seam fastball into the catcher’s mitt. The movement makes the eyes swerve. Commence vertigo.

One item of note that doesn’t transcend the box score: Chris Stewart collected three doubles. One item of note that does transcend the box score: in the eighth inning, after Tony Watson had already surrendered one run, Buster Posey hit a foul fly ball to right. A Pirates fan, wearing a Barry Bonds jersey, reached into play and interfered with Gregory Polanco‘s attempt to make the play. The fan was ejected and Posey was called out to end the inning.

Perhaps the spirit of Barry Bonds performed an assist in the Pirates’ outfield, even if the living, breathing Barry Bonds could not back in 1992.

Game 2:

Bucs 7, Giants 4

Andrew McCutchen was two hits from hitting for the rarest of feats: *the cyclone (single, double, triple, home run, foul ball that plucks the opposing team’s mascot). He finished the contest less the latter two hits. Oh well, four for five ain’t bad.

Buc-A-Roni: The San Francisco Sweep

This late-night start time meant another game from which I had to bail after a couple of innings. And again, I woke up the next morning and immediately wiped the crust from my eyes and turned on my iPhone and the MLB At-Bat app. Bucs win again, and take the series from the Giants.

Cutch certainly earned the Stargell Star. To date, he’s batting .292, with a .876 OPS. After the game he said, “I was fed up. It was time to go. That’s still how I feel, and I’m going to keep that for the rest of the season. I’m not done.”

The Pirates battered Giants’ starter Chris Heston and company for 14 hits. Even embattled shortstop Jordy Mercer hit a dinger, his first of the season.

A.J. Burnett wasn’t as dominant as he had been in his previous starts, but no matter. The offense saved him, whereas he’d previously saved the offense. Sometimes Batman saves the citizens. Sometimes the citizens save Batman. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. His record stands at 6-1.

I retired to bed after Brandon Crawford‘s challenged, but ultimately upheld, home run. Upon reply, a fan (may have) reached over the fence to catch the ball. He definitely, and quickly, pulled his glove back towards the seat. John Wehner made a good call when he said that the fan “framed” the home run like a catcher frames a pitch. Had Russell Martin been the fan, the call would’ve been upheld much quicker.

At that point the game was tied at four. Awaking to a raised Jolly Roger was better than a cup of Folgers.

*No known MLB hitter has ever hit for the cyclone.

Game 3

Bucs 5, Giants 2

Buc-A-Roni: The San Francisco Sweep

Between my hectic day job, getting to the daycare, and fitting in an afternoon power nap between the former two activities, I managed to catch very little of this game.

Speaking of…Clint Hurdle should’ve caught a bus to left field instead of hobbling onto the diamond en route to check on a gimpy Jose Tabata, who’d banged into the wall in the bottom of the third. If MLB really wants to shorten games, Hurdle shouldn’t be allowed to venture onto the field of play without one of those old bullpen carts, let alone slog all the way across the diamond.

Mercer uncorked another dinger. Two in two days! The other shortstop in black belted a gap shot to score two in the top of the ninth to dull the buzz of the hippies on Haight-Ashbury, and send them to the barbershop.

Fransisco Liriano tossed seven innings of four hit ball, dropping his ERA to 3.24. The law firm of Cole, Burnett, & Liriano continue to effectively prosecute opposing batters.

Things are lookin’ pretty damn good.