PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 16: Aaron Hill #2 of the Arizona Diamondbacks rounds the bases after hitting a first inning home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field on April 16, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
The PIrates opened a three-game set with Arizona tonight and lost 5-1.
The Bucs got off to a good start in the first inning with three consecutive hits after two outs, and Neil Walker drove in Andrew McCutchen to give the Pirates 1-0 lead. But the Snakes came right back in the bottom of the inning and tied it on a home run by Aaron Hill.
Neither Erik Bedard nor Joe Saunders looked sharp early but Saunders settled in, Bedard not so much. Bedard went to a three-ball count on nine of 11 consecutive hitters at one point (UPDATE: 10 of 12, according to Rob Biertempfel), but he was able to limit the damage. He threw 97 pitches (50 for strikes) in five innings, but only allowed three hits to go with four walks. When he left after five the Pirates were down 2-1.
Tonight the bullpen didn't get it done. Evan Meek came on and I tweeted this just before he threw his first pitch. Three pitches later it was 4-1 after Chris Young hit one out following a Miguel Montero single. The next inning Chris Resop saw his first pitch land in the pool and that was it, 5-1 Diamondbacks.
Offensively, the Pirates continue to be a black hole. They came into the game last in MLB in runs, RBI, batting avg., OBP, OPS, BB, HR and total bases (they do lead the league in infield hits, adding two more tonight). I'm sure none of that changed. After the three-hit first, the team only managed three more, a single by Bedard, the sixth of his career, a beautiful drag bunt single by Alex Presley and a double by Rod Barajas (which was comical as you might imagine--and only heightened by a fan yelling "TIMMMMMBBBEEERRRR" as he slid into second). Barajas now has two hits on the season, both doubles.
In a less comical note, Pedro Alvarez grounded out to second as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and thus became the third Pirate Opening Day starter to start the season 1-for-20, joining Neil Walker and Rod Barajas. Clint Barmes started 1-for-17. Jose Tabata continues to look miserable both at the plate and in his demeanor and is 0 for his last 13.
With the loss, the Pirates drop to 3-7. Going into tonight they were the first National League team since 1968 to play its first nine games without scoring or allowing more than five runs. That streak is still alive and it appears they are now the first team in either league to have that happen since the 1988 Texas Rangers. Bet the unders? (UPDATE: The Pirates were also the last NL team to accomplish such a feat, going 16 games in a row in 1965.)
-P- Bedard showed more velocity than we have seen so far this season, hitting at least 92 on the gun a few times, but really struggled with his command. The Pirates are the only team in the majors without a 100-pitch outing. Bedard's 97 tonight was a season high. He is now 0-3 with a 2.65 ERA.
-P- Meek did get the next three batters after he gave up the homer, but again is nowhere close to the guy he was two years ago. He'll certainly get a few more chances, but he would now appear to be the most likely candidate to be sent out when A.J. Burnett joins the roster.
-P- Speaking of Burnett, he got shelled in Indy as they lost 9-2. Will Carroll attended the game and tweeted that Burnett got torched and didn't look ready, but the upside was he had all his pitches and velocity, though he wasn't missing bats. I'm sure AJ will get at least one more start for Indy, particularly with Kevin Correia's early-season success.
-P- Maybe the most positive news of the day was Keith Law's tweet on WV Power SS Alen Hanson this afternoon.