In a game where Charlie Morton was exactly what the Doctor ordered, the Pirates were trounced following a disastrous 8th inning. Morton went 7 IP, giving up 6 hits and 1 run which was earned, walking 4 and striking out 2 on his way to an unfortunate no-decision. Ground Chuck got outs when he needed to tonight, as he allowed 10 base runners yet only surrendered one run. On the other side of the field, Brad Hand was great for the Fish. Hand went 6.1 IP, giving up 6 hits, 2 runs both were earned while walking 1 and striking out 4. He kept the Pirates off balance all night, making them earn every bit of the two runs credited to him. Morton won the battle, yet as we've seen all year...has nothing to show for it.
The Pirates got on the board in the 3rd as Starling Marte newly recalled started a 2-out rally with a single up the middle. Mercer then doubled down the 1B line to score Marte and give the Bucs a 1-0 lead. In the 4th the Marlins answered. Former Pirate Garrett Jones singled, Ozuna then tripled down the 3B line. The throw by Mercer to get Jones at the plate was on time but dropped by once a month catcher Chris Stewart.
In the 7th the Pirates broke the tie as Neil Walker led-off the inning with a walk. Jayson Nix then executed a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move Walker to second (real baseball by Pirates). Then, a broken bat single by Polanco to left scored Walker to make it 2-1 Pirates.
Enter the inning from HELL. Jared Hughes came on to pitch the 8th. You read that correctly, Jared Hughes, not Tony Watson. Hughes got Valdespin to groundout to start the inning. He then walked Stanton, McGehee then hit what would have been a double play but the ball went off the glove of Josh Harrison at third. Justin Wilson then entered the game with one out and two men on. He gave up a single to the pinch-hitter Baker to load the bases. Wilson then walked the next two batters, Ozuna and Salty to make it 3-1 Miami. Jeanmar Gomez came on to stop the "can't throw a strike fest". Instead, he continued it. He gave up a base hit to Hechavarria which scored Baker. 4-2 Marlins. Then, an RBI FC by Johnson as Pirates could only get one out put Miami ahead 5-2. Christian Yelich then hit an oppo double that scored one and put the Fish out front 6-2. Stolmy Pimentel came on to stop any bleeding that may have been left. As baseball works, he got Giancarlo Stanton to strike out on just three pitches. THE 8th FINALLY CAME TO AN END! After 4 pitchers, 4 walks 3 hits an error and 5 runs...
The Pirates went down in order in the 8th. Pimentel stayed on to pitch a scoreless top of the 9th. In the bottom half the Pirates were able to plate one more run. Chris Stewart singled to drive in Polanco and make it 6-3. Travis Snider struck out looking for the final out of the game.
Mercer and Stewart were the lone Pirates with multi-hit games. Mercer continues to play good baseball, should mention that he doesn't get enough credit for his defense. Mercer, Polanco and Stewart drove in the Pirates runs. The BLACK HOLE of a cleanup spot continues, Gaby and Ike combining for 0-4 tonight. GO BUCS! The Pirates almost scratched a win out with a AAA lineup tonight, one that looked really ugly following that 8th inning. The Pirates sent Martinex, Nix and Stewart to the plate in the 9th, if that's any indication of Pirates lineup tonight.
As for the 8th inning issue...The choice to go with Jared Hughes instead of Watson is troubling. Watson is coming off of three straight appearances, and he had pitched in 4 of the last 6 games. However, two of those three straight outings were only 9 pitches a piece. Hurdle said in the post-game that Watson was unavailable tonight. He did not elaborate as to why. To me, I just don't see the reason for it especially after a day off yesterday. However, in the 8th, Hughes got McGehee to ground to Harrison on a ball that could have been turned for an inning ending double play. That ball went off JHay's glove for an error, could have been out of the inning and ahead 2-1 there. Without the rest of the show the bullpen put on following that miscue. Justin Wilson can't throw strikes, he hasn't all year. Hurdle would have been better off leaving Hughes in there to work a couple of ground balls. You saw the state of the Pirates bullpen when anyone other than Watson and Melancon come in. The 8th there can be chalked up to a #Hurdled for me for the most part.
Hurdle said that Walker's back tightened on him and that was the reason he ended up coming out of the lineup. So that shouldn't be anything to worry about. Nix can't play second it has to be Walker out there. I got on him for his turn on the throw that hit Ahmed and the double play he tried to turn tonight after moving over there for Walker was ugly and slow.
For his performance on the mound tonight, Charlie Morton is our BUCCO OF THE GAME! Charlie gave the Bucs the start they needed and should have earned both himself and the team the win tonight.
7:05 again tomorrow night. Locke (2-3, 3.77) vs. Koehler (7-8, 3.70), gonna need a good start out of Locke to try and bounce back and win the series...