My main beef with the Pirates' season so far has been that it's been boring. The Bucs haven't been nearly as bad as many fans seem to think, but they've been dreadfully dreary to watch at times.
Today's game was an 11-10 loss in 12 innings, but I'll give the Pirates this: It wasn't boring. Er, well, it was in the early innings, when Jeff Locke threw a billion pitches and the Cubs piled up a 7-1 lead, thanks largely to homers by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. (And to Locke giving up a leadoff double to pitcher Kyle Hendricks in the fourth on a ball hit all the way to the wall, which, well ... y'know.)
At that point, I kind of checked out, only to find out that things were happening while I went on with my life. In the sixth, the Pirates loaded the bases with a series of singles, and then Francisco Cervelli brought everyone home with a double to right. The Bucs scored their fifth run when Corey Hart singled Cervelli home.
The Cubs scored one off Jared Hughes in the bottom in the sixth and then two more in the seventh, but in the eighth, Josh Harrison led off with a homer. Then Cervelli and Gregory Polanco reached base, and Pedro Strop served up a 95 MPH fastball that Andrew McCutchen bashed into the bleachers to bring the Pirates within one.
Tony Watson held the Cubs off in the eighth. Harrison doubled off Hector Rondon with two outs in the ninth, and Cervelli tied the game on a line drive to center. Watson was perfect in the bottom of the inning, and the game headed to extra innings.
After the Bucs failed to score in the tenth, Clint Hurdle turned to Mark Melancon ... a move of which I'd usually disapprove, but there wasn't anyone left but Radhames Liz, who pitched three innings yesterday. Melancon pitched his way in and out of trouble in the 10th, as Polanco ended the inning by catching Matt Szczur's fly ball and throwing home to nail Starlin Castro by about 20 feet.
The Pirates failed to score in the 11th and 12th, though, and this time they really had nothing left but Liz. Liz whiffed Bryant but eventually loaded the bases. Szczur then hit a shallow fly ball that should have resulted in the second out and wasn't deep enough to score Castro from third. But Polanco tripped in his approach to the ball, and it fell in for a walk-off hit.
The ending looked ridiculous, evoking Starling Marte's dropped fly ball against the Cardinals down the stretch in 2013, and I can understand if you want to frame an 11-10 extra-inning loss as this demoralizing defeat, but I don't know. Pedro Alvarez, McCutchen and Harrison all homered. Harrison had four hits, and Cervelli and Harrison had three. And the Pirates battled. There was life here. There was excitement. And then an outfielder tripped. I'm not inclined to worry too much about it. The Bucs need more from the last two spots in their rotation, and there are some weak spots in their bullpen, but if McCutchen and Harrison can continue the kind of hitting they've done in the past few days, the Pirates will be fine in the end.