PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 13, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Well, this wasn't much of a game for much of anyone, was it? I had the Penguins going on one screen and the Pirates on another, and I'm glad one of the local teams did well. The Pirates couldn't do much of anything with Shaun Marcum , who fooled the Pirates mostly with fastballs and changeups. The Bucs managed only four singles against him.
Both he and Kevin Correia had no-hitters going through four, and Correia maintained his through five. Correia allowed only two baserunners during that span, both due to walks, and even one of those was thrown out when Yuniesky Betancourt appeared to miss a hit-and-run sign - thanks to Betancourt, Casey McGehee made about the slowest steal attempt I've ever seen. It looked like Ryan Doumit even double-clutched when he threw.
But after that, things went badly for Correia. The first two runners reached base in the sixth, the first on a double, the second on a bunt that Pedro Alvarez didn't field. Carlos Gomez knocked the first of those in with a sacrifice fly. Then Ryan Braun singled, and then Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer on a hanging breaking ball to make it 4-0. Then in the seventh, Mark Kotsay reached on an error by Alvarez, and Betancourt doubled to bring home another run. (Nyjer Morgan was the one who scored the run, as a pinch-runner.)
This was a pretty ugly game for Alvarez, and ... good game for the Pens, eh?
The night was pretty ugly for the Pirates' minor-league affiliates as well. Sean Gallagher got hit pretty hard for Indianapolis against Louisville. Jeff Locke took the loss for Altoona , but struck out six in 4.2 innings. Bradenton lost 9-2 , but that isn't a huge concern, given that most of the damage was done against non-starter Matt McSwain, and Robbie Grossman , Ramon Cabrera and Adalberto Santos all got three hits apiece. And Brandon Cumpton got whacked in West Virginia's 13-2 loss to Asheville; Gift Ngoepe hit a homer.
Update (by Vlad):
I was one of the few people at the game last night, so I figure I might as well give my two cents on things. PNC Park was an absolute ghost town, unsurprising under the circumstances. The paid attendance was 8,755, but I'd be surprised if there were more than 5,000 people in the park. At one point, the team did one of those "lucky row" prize promotions in section 28 (field level near the LF corner), and when I looked, there were only two people in the whole section, neither in the row in question.
Nearly all of the TVs in the suites were showing the Penguins game, and there were several incongruous cheers when interesting things happened in the game happening across town.
This was my first chance to see Correia pitch since his signing, and I'm still not sure exactly what I think of him. He worked quickly and mostly threw strikes, both of which are good things from the spectator's point of view. His stuff didn't seem exceptional. He didn't get many clean swings-and-misses, and was mostly just pitching to contact. The results were pretty good until the sixth inning, at which point the wheels came off. Through the first five, Correia hadn't allowed much solid contact, but after that point just about everything Milwaukee got the bat on was hit pretty squarely. It was strange to see him falter like that, because he was only around 70 pitches at that point in the game, due to his earlier efficiency.
Charlie misspoke slightly when he described the bunt at the heart of the meltdown. Pedro was covering third on the play, and Correia seemed to consider trying to nail the lead runner, and then become tangled up in his attempt to field the ball until it was too late to make a play at first, either.
There were a few other notable fielding plays in the game, which might be worthy of further discussion. With one out in the sixth and men on first (Marcum) and third (Lucroy), Carlos Gomez hit a flyball to right field, which tailed foul but was still fairly easily playable. In that situation, what's the right play for the right fielder? Lucroy is a decent runner for a catcher, but not exactly a thoroughbred. Do you make the catch, take the second out, and then take your chances on a play at the plate? Or do you let the ball drop in the hope that Correia, who has only surrendered one real hit in five-plus innings, can retire the weak-hitting Gomez in a way that keeps Lucroy nailed to third base? Diaz did the former, and I can't say that he was wrong for doing so, as he left himself in good position to make the throw and it all ended up being a moot point anyway after Braun's single and Fielder's homer.
There were also a few moments of interest in the Brewers ' half of the seventh. Pedro made an error on a grounder by Kotsay, giving him three for the year. In fairness to Pedro, the play wasn't a gimme, as he had to move to get in front of the ball and got hit in the chest by an in-between hop that kind of snuck up on him. The interesting part of the play, though, was that the ball ricocheted off of Pedro's chest directly to Cedeno, who caught it cleanly in the air and was only about a step and a half late on the throw to first. It was a nice effort, and would've really been a beautiful play if it had come together.
There was a similar almost-but-not-quite moment on the next batter. Yuniesky Betancourt drilled a double to left-center, and with Morgan (who had pinch run for Kotsay) digging for home, Tabata played the bounce perfectly, barehanded the ball, and fired a strike right to the cutoff man (Cedeno again, I think, though I may be mistaken). The cutoff man, whoever he was, got rid of the ball in a hurry and laid it on target, and there was a play at the plate in a situation that had no business being as close as it was. Unfortunately for us, the throw wasn't quite in time, Doumit got trucked by Morgan, and the ball came out. Still, even though the result wasn't there, it was nice to see that kind of effort and execution, particularly in a game where we were already down four runs late.