The game seemed to be following an all-too-familiar script. The Pirates came into Sunday's game with a great chance for a sweep, facing the severely struggling Junkballin' Joe Blanton, only to make Blanton's job all too easy by chasing bad pitches. They did this even after Pedro Alvarez homered in his first AB for the third straight game, the fourth straight in which he's gone deep, by lifting a towering fly over the right field wall for his 19th round tripper. The Angels struck back in the 2nd with a classic Mortonesque inning. The bad guys hit only a couple balls hard, but they turned two walks; three singles, a couple of them dribblers; a costly Alvarez boot; and a two-run forceout into a five-run inning. The Pirates came back with two unearned runs in the third, but did nothing else with Blanton, who retired fourteen in a row before leaving with one out in the 8th. The Angels, meanwhile, got a sixth run on a single by none other than Brad Hawpe.
So it stood 6-3 in the 9th, with the Pirates on the verge of missing a golden opportunity to further establish their bona fides as one of the best teams in MLB. Except they didn't. An Andrew McCutchen pinch-hit forceout with runners on first and third brought in one run, but left two outs. Russell Martin, though, followed with a double and Starling Marte singled to tie the game. Then in the 10th, an Alvarez double and two walks loaded the bases for Travis Snider with one out. Snider looped a single to left, with three runs scoring after the ball got away from J.B. Schuck. Following a McCutchen single, Martin singled in another run to make it 10-6.
Incredibly, that almost wasn't enough. Jason Grilli had his first true meltdown of the year, giving up five hits and three runs. The Angels got the tying and winning runs to scoring position for none other than Mike Trout, but Grilli gathered himself to strike Trout out on a slider.
The game featured two major league debuts. Tony Sanchez served as DH and, in his first major league at-bat, got a nice swing on an outside pitch and showed his strength by doubling off the right field wall. Well, actually, the ball somehow stuck in the wall, costing Sanchez an RBI as there was a runner on first. Sanchez finished 1-3, leaving for McCutchen in the 9th. The other debut belonged to Duke Welker, who had a 1-2-3 8th inning, registering his first big league strikeout and showing off a 96-98 mph fastball.
Morton struggled with his control, walking five, but unlike many past outings he battled through five and two-thirds. Clint Hurdle got good mileage out of the back of his bullpen, with Welker and Ryan Reid allowing no hits or walks in two and a third innings of relief.
And in a sure Sign of the Apocalypse, Albert Pujols went 0-5. Against the Pirates. Watch out for locusts.