A bittersweet night in Phoenix saw a Pirates win as well as an injury to perhaps the Pirates’ best pitcher. The Arizona heat warmed up the Pirates’ bats as they scored a season-high 5 runs to give them a 5-3 run over the Diamondbacks.
Wandy Rodriguez was standing in the on-deck circle before he had a chance to throw a pitch tonight, thanks to the Bucs’ finally lively offense. Giving up his double-ear-flap helmet, he stepped to the mound and pitched a perfect 1st inning. The 2nd inning wasn’t quite as smooth, a leadoff double by Paul Goldschmidt resulting in a run when backup catcher Wil Nieves (who somehow beat out Rod Barajas for the spot) singled with 2 outs. That was all for the 2nd inning, and Wandy started off the 3rd by getting Diamondbacks starting pitcher Trevor Cahill to ground out. Gerardo Parra reached on a fielding error, and suddenly something was wrong. Wandy started walking around the field and stretching his leg. Was it just a cramp that he needed to stretch out? No. The pain was due to tightness in his right hamstring, enough to force him out of the game.
Jeanmar Gomez came in to replace Wandy. Gomez loaded the bases before getting his first out of the inning, a sacrifice fly by Goldschmidt that drove in Gerardo Parra. Gomez gave up one more run on a single by Alfredo Marte, Marte’s first major league hit, before getting out of the inning. Gomez pitched a scoreless 4th an, despite a shaky outing, was the pitcher of record when the Pirates pulled ahead and received the win tonight.
Reliever Justin Wilson, however, was the pitching hero of the game. He pitched 3 scoreless hitless innings, the only baserunner a hit batter who was quickly erased by a double play. “It’s great to get us back on the right track and get a win and hopefully keep it rolling into tomorrow,” Wilson said after the game. “Everyone pitched well tonight.” Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli each pitched a perfect inning to seal the win.
The 1st inning of tonight’s game saw the Pirates collect 3 hits and 2 walks, giving them an early 3-0 lead. Andrew McCutchen drove in the first run of the game with a double, and, true to his twitter promise, brought back the Zoltan. Cutch was asked after the game about the importance of 1st-inning runs. “It’s a spark plug for the team. It’s something we needed,” Cutch said. “It helps our starting pitching, relaxes them a little bit.” Not only has Cutch taken on the role of a team leader on the field and on twitter, but tonight’s interview showed a new maturity that wasn’t as present last year. “The key is to not panic,” Cutch said of the Pirates’ slow start. “Just don’t do it.” The Pirates pulled ahead again in the 5th inning on a sacrifice fly, another RBI by Andrew McCutchen. Just in case, Garrett Jones decided to add an insurance run in the 8th inning, crushing a ball into the right field seats.
It wasn’t exactly a hit parade, but the Pirates took advantage of 5 hits and 6 walks to make sure they scored more runs than the Dbacks. Did the return of the Zoltan have anything to do with it? GFJ and Cutch seem to think so. Whatever gets them a win, right?
Game Two of the 3-game series is tomorrow night at 9:40 again. James McDonald will start for the Pirates. He’ll face Brandon McCarthy.