Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/13/13
The Pirates took a really tough loss on Friday night and dropped back to second in the Central as the Cards won on a walk off. It was certainly an exciting game at PNC, but every loss feels like a crushing blow at this point – part of what makes pennant races so great yet also so tense and stressful. For a while, it looked like this was going to be yet another storybook win and the fifth in a row for the Pirates. Charlie Morton had a pretty shaky start and allowed three runs in just five innings (and was fortunate he didn’t allow more – there were several well hit outs), but the Pirates dug out of that hole in the coolest way possible — back-to-back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. That has to be on the short list of “most awesome things you could witness at a baseball game” and it was indeed pretty darn awesome to see PNC explode three times like that. And to make it crazier, the first of the three was a Pedro Alvarez inside the parker (thanks to a fan’s deflection that the umps must have missed). It honestly looked like a pop up that just kept going and going and wound up near the top of the wall, and from there El Toro was off to the races and scored easily. Still counts as a bomb. Russell Martin followed that with a no doubter to left, and then Garrett Jones made it three in a row for the first time since 2003 with a liner to center. It was a such a feat that the fans gave a rousing ovation after Clint Barmes struck out to end the inning. The Bucs took the lead when the Cubs booted a Pedro ground ball with two on in the sixth, and it felt like the one run lead would be enough. Justin Wilson had handled the sixth, and Jason Grilli came on for the seventh. That was a little weird to see but in all honestly, it’s probably right about where he belongs for now. Initially, it looked like Jason was gunning for his closer’s job back with two quick strikeouts, but he then narrowly missed for a walk and then served up a gigantic 2-run blast to Anthony Rizzo. Talk about a deflating moment. I don’t have a problem with Hurdle using Grilli there, and I don’t think he’s in bad shape (he was an inch or so away from K’ing the side 1-2-3), but I also don’t think he’s ready to return to the closer role yet. Leave him in the middle-to-late innings as the third best guy, behind Mark Melancon and Tony Watson until he returns to top form. That may or may not happen, but I would say it hasn’t occurred yet – his velocity was a bit down and the pitch to Rizzo must have been pretty juicy – he hit it well out of the stadium towards the river. The Pirates got a few men on in the late innings but couldn’t generate a run to tie it up. It felt like they were going to do it, and they hit several balls well that found gloves (including the final out by Neil Walker, which was a foot or so short of a game tying double and a few more feet short of a walk off homer). Frustrating, and it’s hard to just shake it off when every game is so crucial now. Close games in Pittsburgh and in St Louis both went against the Bucs tonight, so now they’re back in a slight hole and have more work to do to get back on top. Cubs 5, Pirates 4 / Box / 2013 Record: 85-62 / Next: Saturday, vs. Cubs, 7:05 Source: FanGraphs
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