James McDonald started off tonight’s game strong, despite the leadoff homerun. The Pirates scored 8 runs, but it turned out to not be enough as JMac fell apart, the bullpen couldn’t hold it, and the Pirates lost, 9 to 8.
JMac did what he had to do to get out of the 1st inning after Alexi Amarista’s homerun and get to the 5th inning before falling apart. The Pirates had a 7-1 lead at that point, but JMac gave up 6 runs on a 2-run double by Jesus Guzman, an RBI single by Amarista, and a 3-run homerun by Chase Headley to allow the Padres to tie the score at 7. JMac looked dejected after the game and took full responsibility for the loss. “I didn’t come through, just a sloppy performance by me today,” he said. “I gotta learn myself, how to get myself back into tune. It’s taking a little longer than I want, but I gotta keep grinding. A starting pitcher’s job isn’t to go 4 innings. I let the team down bigtime.” Clint Hurdle was asked after the game why JMac faltered and why he was not taken out of the game earlier. “He lost the breaking ball, the fastball wasn’t hitting where he wanted it to,” Hurdle said. “The move I made did not work, and that falls on me, but obviously we thought he could get through it, and that’s why we left him in.” Chris Resop came in to pitch after Headley’s homer, and got out of the inning quickly and went on to pitch a total of 2 perfect innings, giving the Pirates a chance to go ahead again, 8-7. Tony Watson came in to pitch with 1 out in the 7th and allowed another homerun to Chris Headley, a 2-run homer that put the Padres on top for good and gave Watson the loss. Qualls pitched a perfect 9th inning to finish off the game.
The first few innings were fun to watch, as the Pirates scored their 7 runs to start out. Starling Marte drove in Clint Barmes in the bottom of the 2nd to tie the game at 1. A solo homer by Garrett Jones in the 3rd inning put the Pirates up, 2-1. Travis Snider hit his first Buccos homerun in the 4th inning, a 3-run shot, and a few batters later, Pedro Alvarez singled in 2 more runs. The Pirates led 7-1, and even after the Padres tied it, it wasn’t over yet. In the bottom of the 6th, Rod Barajas came through with a single to center field, scoring Garrett Jones and putting the Buccos up, 8-7. It looked to be the winning run. However, after giving up Headley’s 2nd homerun, the Pirates went down in order in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.
“There’s not many seasons that don’t have a game like this, or 2,” Hurdle said after the game. “You bounce back. It speaks to the character of your club, the mental toughness of your club.”
The Pirates look to bounce back tomorrow behind AJ Burnett, who has been quite the stopper for them this year. Burnett (14-3, 3.19 ERA) will face Jason Marquis (5-6, 4.10 ERA).