Do me a favor. All of us have been to an amusement park of some sort or another. Think about the most terrifying roller coaster that you have ever been on. Flying 100 miles per hour. Rising 80 feet up in the air. Feeling like you’re going to get ripped out of your seat. After you have that image in your head, look me in the eye and try to tell me that the Pirates haven’t been more terrifying over the last week.
Mark Melancon‘s back to back blown saves prompted Clint Hurdle to grant the role back to Jason Grilli. However, early in the game it didn’t appear that the decision would matter. A.J. Burnett gave up runs in the first two innings, a single to Ryan Ludwick and a home run to Zack Cozart, to start the game. But those would be the only runs that Burnett would give up. He struck out 12 Reds over seven innings and became the first right handed pitcher in Pirates history to strike out 200 players in one season.
Burnett’s dominance started after Russell Martin tied the game with a two run home run in the bottom of the second inning. Outside of that one pitch, Homer Bailey appeared to be having his typical dominant PNC Park appearance. That was until the sixth inning. Andrew McCutchen was walked and advanced to third off an error on a pickoff attempt with one out. Marlon Byrd drove him in with a sacrifice fly to the warning track to give the Pirates the lead. Pedro Alvarez tacked on another run with an opposite field single off of former Pirate Zach Duke. It did come down to Grilli to get the save and he did exactly that without much trouble at all.
Player of the Game: A.J. Burnett
The overly sensitive masses got really jammed up about a tweet that Burnett made earlier in the week in regards to attendance. After tonight, Burnett could tweet insults about my mother and I probably wouldn’t be too offended. The Pirates had two gut wrenching losses in a row and found themselves in a tie with the Reds. Burnett’s response was to mow down the Reds explosive lineup and show the emotion that we’ve become accustomed to. Is the guy a polarizing personality? No doubt about it. But I struggle to believe that this team is the same without him.
Play of the Game: Russell Martin
Burnett’s outing didn’t start nearly as well as it ended. Runs in the first two innings were discouraging to say the least. But Martin’s home run to tie things up in the second inning was the spark that Burnett as well as the rest of the team needed. It fired up the crowd. It fired up Burnett. And it deflated the Reds. Martin isn’t the biggest bat in this lineup by far but there are very few guys on the roster that have had more timely hits this season than he has.
Up Next: Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, 1:35pm
It’s amazing how quickly an 162 game season can blow by. The Pirates will play their home finale tomorrow looking to take the series from the Reds. Jeff Locke will be pitching for the Pirates. I really wish I could say anything encouraging about that.
Bronson Arroyo will pitch for the Reds. Surprisingly, he’s only faced the Pirates once this year and that was a win for the Reds.