Where to start with this one? The Pirates hit a bunch of home runs and staved off the Padres despite some poor defense, before finally pulling away, winning 11-5 for their seventh victory in a row.
All that happened in PETCO Park. When I lived in San Diego, I watched a ton of of games there, and they were mostly quiet 2-1 types of matchups. Apparently that isn't how the ballpark is playing this year, perhaps thanks in part to a new building that's blocking the wind. Or maybe Padres pitchers are just the unluckiest dudes in the world. In any case, opposing batters have hit a ton of homers off the Padres, and the Pirates were able to continue the trend tonight.
The craziness started in the first inning, when Ian Kennedy put two runners on and then served up a slider for Jung-Ho Kang to bash halfway to Anaheim. Gregory Polanco then hit a line-drive homer that I thought was almost even more impressive -- it flew straight out to dead center, and a spot where one rarely sees a batter hit a line-drive homer. Then in the third, another homer. Andrew McCutchen singled, and Starling Marte blasted off to left. The Bucs brought home another run on McCutchen's ground-rule double in the fourth, and the Bucs took a 7-0 lead.
And that was it, surely, right? No, actually. Because PETCO Park is now Coors Field, San Diego is now Albuquerque, and the Pirates defense was, at least briefly, that of the 1962 Mets. In the bottom of the fourth, Justin Upton singled, stole second, and moved up to third as Kang made an unwise decision to try to throw him out rather than getting Derek Norris at first. Pedro Alvarez then fielded Cory Spangenberg's grounder and made the out at first, but failed to throw to home or second. Will Middlebrooks then singled in another run.
After Burnett walked Abraham Almonte in the fifth, the Pirates' defense made a bizarre two-error play that looked like a baseball video game where there's a glitch with the AI. Neil Walker fielded Yangervis Solarte's grounder and appeared to start throwing to second before deciding against it and throwing to first instead. This caught a befuddled Alvarez completely off guard, and the ball trickled away behind him. Francisco Cervelli adroitly backed up the play, but Kang failed to field his relatively clean-looking throw to second. Almonte came around to score, and Walker and Cervelli, the two players involved who I thought came the closest to doing their jobs correctly, got charged with errors. I think Alvarez has done a lot of things well this season, but he's still utterly lost on anything hit to Walker's left that Walker is supposed to field, and he needs to work on trusting Walker to get to certain balls, and moving to the bag when that happens.
Anyway, Will Venable singled, and Upton singled in anther run to make it 7-4. It looked like the Pirates might go full disaster at that point, but they didn't, as A.J. Burnett struck out Matt Kemp and Derek Norris and got Spangenberg to ground out. The Bucs then made that terrible half inning irrelevant right after coming to bat, getting RBI doubles from Josh Harrison and McCutchen and then grabbing two more runs on Alexi Amarista's throwing error.
And, finally, the Pirates had more than enough. After Burnett allowed one more run in the sixth, Jared Hughes, Vance Worley and Antonio Bastardo finished the game relatively quietly. The Bucs moved to three games above .500 with the win, and they have a +41 run differential on the season.