Jonathan Sanchez surprised a lot of people in his first start tonight for the Pirates, pitching 5 innings and giving up 3 runs. A pitchers’ duel between Zack Greinke and Jonathan Sanchez isn’t exactly what most were expecting. Unfortunately, the Pirates’ offense hasn’t woken up yet. They gave Jonathan no run support, and there was only so much he could do.
Almost everything about Jonathan Sanchez is impressive. He got himself into a few jams and got himself out. He pitched quickly and kept the game moving. He even worked hard at the plate. None of it resulted in a hit, but he gave it his best shot anyway. “There’s a very fierce competitor in him,” Clint Hurdle said after the game. “He’s very quiet, very softspoken, but he takes everything seriously. He takes his at-bats seriously!” Jonathan looked pretty upset after the strikeout. Asked after the game what was going on there, he said, “I was expecting a fastball, and he [Zack Greinke] threw me a changeup or something. I was like, ‘Come on!'” Jonathan didn’t give up a hit until the 2nd inning. Unfortunately, Andre Ethier had that hit, and it was a homerun to put the Pirates in a 1-0 hole. From then on, Jonathan pitched well, pitching himself into and out of a few jams. He didn’t walk a batter until the 6th inning. Unfortunately, Matt Kemp followed that walk with his first hit – and RBI – of the year. Jonathan wasn’t out of trouble yet, as Adrian Gonzalez batted next and scored Kemp with a double to right field. That was the end of Jonathan’s day. He gave up 3 runs over 5 innings on 6 hits and just 1 walk while striking out 4. “I felt pretty good,” Jonathan said after the game. “I felt like I had something to do, go out there and get to the 6th inning and give the team a chance to win.”
The Pirates’ offense hasn’t quite figured out how to take advantage of those chances yet. They only managed 2 hits and a walk off of Greinke, and never in the same inning. Garrett Jones singled in the 2nd inning with 2 outs, a lucky hit that deflected off of the 2nd baseman’s glove and into right field, but Travis Snider followed that with a groundout. Andrew McCutchen singled with 1 out in the 7th inning, and then he was caught stealing. Russell Martin led off the 8th inning with a walk, but 2 strikeouts and a Josh Harrison pinch-hit flyout later, the inning was over. However, Clint Hurdle still says he’s encouraged by what he sees. “I’m encouraged by the pitching. I’m encouraged by our defense. We just gotta keep going out there. I’m encouraged by the quality of our at-bats.”
Jeanmar Gomez was another nice surprise, finishing the 6th inning for Jonathan and going on to pitch 3 full innings, only giving up 1 hit. Another nice surprise is that the Pirates’ pitching rotation has been altered so that AJ Burnett will start tomorrow. He’ll face Clayton Kershaw.
“What I like that we’re doing now,” said Hurdle, “we’re playing close ballgames.” Hopefully these close ballgames can start going the Pirates’ way soon.