April 7, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens (27) delivers a pitch to during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. Mandatory credit: Vincent Pugliese- US PRESSWIRE
The Bucs and Phillies had a pitchers' duel for the second straight game, with the Bucs getting only getting two hits in six innings off Cliff Lee and Jeff Karstens only giving up one run in six innings. (Karstens struck out two and walked one -- a very Karstens-y performance indeed.) After five, the Pirates had only one hit and were down 1-0. Great, I thought -- we've seen this before.
In the sixth, though, Yamaico Navarro drew a rare walk on Cliff Lee, then headed to third on a single by Jose Tabata. Navarro then came home on a wild pitch. As Steve Blass pointed out during the game, Lee had to feel pretty bad about all that -- not only did he walk Navarro and then allow the wild pitch, but he covered the plate as Navarro came home and completely missed the throw.
Tony Watson, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan followed, each throwing a scoreless inning apiece. Grilli battled back admirably against the first batter, Juan Pierre: Grilli threw three straight balls, then got two called strikes and finally got Pierre swinging on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Hanrahan was wild in the ninth, walking two, but the Phillies gave away an out when Laynce Nix bunted a ball straight up in the air, and Hanrahan struck out Jim Thome and Freddy Galvis to end the threat. Andrew McCutchen singled and stole second in the bottom of the ninth, but got stranded when Neil Walker popped up.
Juan Cruz shut the Phillies down in the top of the 10th, and then the Pirates' offense finally came alive. Barajas led off the inning and hit a long drive to center that missed clearing the wall by all of about four inches; he ended up on second, and Michael McKenry came in to pinch-run. Cut to Barajas in the dugout, who clearly looked pleased with himself and the situation. (And give him some credit -- he doesn't get on base very often, but every so often he hits a ball a long, long way.) Clint Barmes then laid down a good bunt to move McKenry to third. Then Joe Blanton hit Josh Harrison.
Then Tabata came up with the winning run on third and one out ... and popped a first-pitch curveball up to second. Cut back to Barajas in the dugout, who by then had a pained expression on his face, and you could imagine that it's dawning on him that he agreed to play for the Pirates, and this is how things are going to be.
Not tonight, though. With two outs, Alex Presley hit a slow grounder to shortstop and scampered to first, narrowly beating the throw and giving the Pirates their first win of the season. This was an exciting one, and while we've yet to see the Pirates' offense do much of anything, the Bucs' pitching staff now has allowed two runs in 19 innings pitched, and our boys are 1-1. I'll take it.
In the minors:
-P- Alex Meyer pitched five very good innings in his pro debut as Hagerstown beat West Virginia, 4-3. Matt Benedict actually got the start, not Zac Fuesser, and Benedict struck out seven and walked three while allowing three runs in 4.2 innings. Jose Osuna and Junior Sosa got two hits apiece; went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk.
-P- Toledo's comeback bid came up short against Indianapolis, as the Indians won 8-7. The Mud Hens scored three runs in the ninth off Tim Wood. Jeff Locke allowed eight hits in four innings, but struck out four and walked none and only allowed two runs. Jordy Mercer went 4-for-6. Chase D'Arnaud left the game early, evidently after getting hit in the head.