The Bucs dropped their second-straight one-run decision on Thursday night, as the Mets squeaked out a walk-off win in the ninth inning.
And they did it against Jason Grilli, who was actually pitching in the ninth inning of a tie game!!! Mark Melancon also pitched the eighth in a tie game! I have no idea what got in to Clint Hurdle‘s head–he insisted just this past weekend that he wasn’t going to use either guy in these situations–but I’m thrilled he changed his mind. This was the first time Grilli or Melancon pitched in a tie game, and the fact that it was a road game made it even more surprising. Hopefully this becomes a trend.
Sadly, it backfired in the case of Grilli, who allowed a leadoff hit off the glove of Brandon Inge at second (I’m pretty sure Neil Walker would have handled the play with no problem), a sac bunt, and a slow roller up the middle. He wasn’t exactly hit hard, but he took a loss and allowed only his second run of the season. I really, really hope Hurdle doesn’t use this game as an example of why not to use his best pitchers in tie games, because they should be out there when it matters most.
The bigger problem for the Bucs today was offense. Mets starter Dillon Gee had no trouble setting them down until the sixth, when the Bucs loaded the bases with no outs and knocked him out of the game. Pedro Alvarez hit a sac fly to bring one run in, but Inge and Clint Barmes didn’t add anything else. The weak output against Gee was disappointing – he entered the game with pretty awful numbers and the Bucs didn’t many balls hard against him.
The good news: Jeff Locke delivered another strong start. He went six innings and got stronger as the game went on – the Mets squared some balls up against him early and notched a run in the second, but Jeff retired the last nine hitters he faced and allowed just three hits. He walked three and struck out three – so that ratio is still a nagging issue – but it hasn’t hurt him lately. His ERA is down to a very tidy 2.95.
After both starters were out of the 1-1 tie game, a struggling left handed power bat came up big for each side. Tony Watson served up an RBI double to Ike Davis in the seventh, putting New York up 2-1. But in the eighth, Pedro struck – destroying a homer to tie it right back up. It was a pretty productive day for Pedro, who also had another hit, so that was nice to see.
Things seemed to be setting up well for the Bucs after Melancon tossed his usual scoreless eighth and Jose Tabata led off the ninth with a hit. After two outs, Andrew McCutchen found himself engaged in a solid battle with Mets closer Bobby Parnell, and eventually Cutch DRILLED a pitch to center. It was one of those swings where you immediately jump out of your seat because you know he crushed it. Unfortunately, he crushed it to the wrong part of the park and Mets CF Juan Lagares made a phenomenal catch, possibly robbing him of a homer and certainly robbing him of the go ahead RBI. Then Grilli gave up his run on two fairly cheap base hits and the Bucs lost. Tough turnaround.
Mets 3, Pirates 2 / Box / 2013 Record: 18-16 / Next: Friday, at Mets, 7:10