PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 04: Garrett Jones #46 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by manager Clint Hurdle #13 after scoring against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning during the game on August 4, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Clint Hurdle cost the Pirates the game tonight. James McDonald had allowed three homers by the end of the fourth inning but still managed to last seven full innings for the first time this season and leave the game with a lead, thanks to his own miraculous bases-clearing double in the Pirates' six-run fourth. The Bucs were up 6-4 at that point.
And then, the eighth. Dan McCutchen came on to pitch and allowed the first three batters to reach on two singles and a hit by pitch. (I was listening to the game on the radio, and it sounded like the hit by pitch was really, really close.) So, to recap, it's 6-4 Pirates, and the Cubs have the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth. So who does Hurdle turn to? Why, Jason Grilli, of course. This is a tailor-made situation for Joel Hanrahan - it's about as high-leverage as it gets. And not only does Hurdle not bring in Hanrahan, he brings in ... well, again, recent Lehigh Valley IronPigs setup man Jason Grilli.
Grilli allows a single, and then Hurdle brings in Joe Beimel to face Carlos Pena, which I suppose is defensible in order to get the lefty-lefty matchup, although Beimel in any kind of high-leverage situation scares the bejesus out of me. Of course Pena walks to tie the game. And then Hurdle brings in Jose Veras, who allows a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs the lead but gets the next two batters to end the inning.
The Pirates don't score in the bottom of the inning, and then Hanrahan comes in in the ninth with the Pirates behind.
That's just awful. The decision to go to Grilli is terrible, and I don't understand how any manager could make it. The Cubs completed the sweep. The first three losses were on the players, but this one was all Hurdle. He seems to do so many things well, but his bullpen usage recently has flagrantly lacked common sense, and I can't believe he can't see it.