Brandon Cumpton's MLB debut looked, on a couple occasions, like it might become one of those storybook games that the 2013 Pirates seem surprisingly capable of producing, but in the end they came up short, losing 5-3 in 11 innings.
Cumpton actually struck out five of the first six batters he faced -- not so much with blazing stuff, which we know he doesn't really have, but with good command of decent stuff delivered to a listless-looking Dodgers lineup. (His slider to punch out leadoff hitter Skip Schumaker, however, was a thing of beauty.) After the first two innings, though, Cumpton didn't have any strikeouts at all, but it was still a decent debut overall.
“Very professional job, very proud of him,” Clint Hurdle said of Cumpton. “Our boy matched him (Clayton Kershaw) through five and gave us everything he had … he looked like he’d been there before.”
For his part, Cumpton said that the experience of making his first Major League start lived up to how he envisioned it. "It was everything, even more than I expected," he said.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, when Schumaker had an RBI single to tie it. The Dodgers then took a 3-1 lead in the sixth when Cumpton allowed three straight hits. He was followed by Bryan Morris, who gave up a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates just missed a big opportunity in the sixth when Schumaker, playing left field, pulled back a potential three-run homer by Russell Martin. The Pirates didn't score any runs that inning.
The Bucs closed the lead to one in the eighth when Jordy Mercer singled, moved up on a wild pitch, and came home on a single by Neil Walker.
Then, in the ninth, the Dodgers brought in Kenley Jansen, who gave up a line-drive homer to Travis Snider. That was a surprising moment, because Jansen is very, very good and Snider hasn't hit well at all recently. And at that moment, as the Bucs headed into extra innings, I felt very confident that they would find a way to win.
It wasn't to be, however. The Pirates might have scored when Walker doubled with a man on in the 10th, but Nick Leyva held Martin at third. (Martin would have been safe, since Yasiel Puig's throw was offline, but Leyva obviously couldn't have known that.)
Afterwards Hurdle said that he wasn't going to question his third base coach.
"I haven't watched the replay, but I'm going to guess that Russell's not even past him when the ball gets there. I don't know ... He's got make a call much earlier than we do."
Vin Mazzaro took over in the 11th and allowed a leadoff double to Andre Ethier, then a dribbler of a single by Juan Uribe and a double by Nick Punto. That put the Dodgers up by two, and the Pirates couldn't score off Brandon League in the bottom of the inning. Jason Grilli went unused, which is annoying.
The decision about whether Cumpton will start Thursday has not been made. "I'm not going to throw that out there until I talk to our general manager," said Hurdle. "We'll see"
David Manel contributed to this article.