Padres 6, Pirates 5: Bucs Blow Lead, Lose In Late Innings Without Using Top Relievers

PETCO Park probably played a greater role in the outcome of this game than any single player - there were a ton of balls hit a very, very long way, but most of them died in the thick ocean air. The Pirates brought home two runs in the first on a double by Neil Walker, but Jeff Karstens allowed third-inning homers to Mat Latos (yeah, that's the pitcher) and Eric Patterson, along with an RBI single by Cameron Maybin later in the inning.

The Pirates retook the lead in the seventh on an RBI double by Matt Diaz and a two-run single by Andrew McCutchen. But Mike Crotta came on in the bottom of the inning and allowed two singles, and after that there was a problem. Chris Resop apparently wasn't available because he threw 31 pitches on Monday, and Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan had both pitched both of the last two days. Veras must have been available Tuesday, because Clint Hurdle had him warming up later in the game, but regardless, Hurdle opted to have Joe Beimel pitch to righties with runners on base. After Beimel allowed a bunt single to lefty Eric Patterson to load the bases, I probably would have put in Veras right there to put his foot down against righty Ryan Ludwick - but instead Beimel walked in a run. Another run then came across on a double play by Jorge Cantu. Maybe Hurdle was reluctant to use Veras because he pitched the two previous games, and maybe a couple of runs would have scored anyway, but Veras has been dominant recently, and there's no better spot to let the guy dominate than with two righties coming up and the bases loaded with no outs.

Hurdle then left Beimel out there in the eighth, and threw a horrible hanging breaking ball to another righty, catcher Rob Johnson, who smacked it over the wall in left field. Whoops! 6-5 Padres, and as WTM pointed out in the comment thread, the Bucs managed to blow a lead late in the game without ever using any of their really good, reliable relievers. And yes, there might be some sliver of an argument for Beimel being good and reliable under the right circumstances, but the way he was used Tuesday isn't one of them. He's a lefty reliever with a big platoon split. He should be facing lefties. It was great when he pitched 1.2 really good innings against the Rockies on Sunday, but that's generally not how he should be used. 

Anyway, the Padres brought on Heath Bell in the ninth. Brandon Wood walked to lead off the inning, and Ronny Cedeno bunted him over - a dubious tactical decision with an actual hitter, but with Cedeno it's probably not horrible. Wood then broke for third when Johnson was scrambling to pick a ball out of the dirt, and Johnson made a good play to throw him out. At first, I was furious that Wood broke - normally, being on third with one out doesn't increase the chances that you'll score that much as compared to being on second with one out, so you have to be safe a very high percentage of the time to make breaking to third a good idea. But against a good pitcher in a tough ballpark, it's probably fine, and I appreciated the awareness it took for Wood to try that play in the first place.

UPDATE: Pedro Alvarez's departure in the sixth was due to a tight quad muscle. It looks like he'll be out tomorrow, too.

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