Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 10/23/14
When the Pirates go to extra innings in Atlanta, I think Bucs fans have been conditioned to expect the worst. At least this one only required one painful extra inning, but the result was the Pirates’ fourth loss in five games. Jeff Locke delivered a pretty decent start. He lost his scoreless streak in the third inning, but seemed to be controlling the plate pretty well and recorded seven strikeouts. His pitch count ran up fairly quickly, though, and after allowing a 2-out single in the sixth he was at 103 pitches. That was enough for Clint Hurdle, who yanked him. I thought he should’ve given Jeff a chance to finish the inning against B.J. Upton, who he had retired twice, but instead Hurdle brought in Ryan Reid. Reid was good in his debut on Monday and this seemed to be a decent spot for him against a righty, but he missed badly with a fastball and Upton put it in the seats to tie the game. Oops. That erased a nice little lead the Pirates had built up against a very solid lefty Mike Minor. Gaby Sanchez homered in the second, Andrew McCutchen doubled two runs home in the third, and Pedro Alvarez hit an oppo-blast in the fourth. Yes, Pedro hit an oppo blast against a good lefty pitcher. The Bucs had leads of 3-0 and 4-2, but it turned in to a tied-up battle of bullpens once Upton took Reid yard in the sixth. The early signs of life from the offense didn’t translate to the later innings – no Pirate reached base after Pedro’s homer until Cutch singled in the ninth. The Bucs’ pen was able to keep the Braves off the board as well, but did so while working around several threats. Tony Watson walked three in the eighth and Jason Grilli nearly gave up a walk off blast in the ninth, but Cutch made a great grab at the wall. Mark Melancon got the call in the tenth and yielded a leadoff walk (although two of the balls should’ve been strikes). After getting a K, he hit a batter and then gave up a walk off single for his first loss of the year. Even though the Bucs were in decent shape with their best relievers ready to go…once Atlanta reached walk off territory (the ninth), the loss seemed inevitable since they were putting together constant threats while the Bucs continued to go down silently. They did get two on against Kimbrel, but a Travis Snider K and Pedro lineout ended the inning. The Bucs now find themselves in a funk with four losses in their last five games. Not a crisis, but the offense is becoming a problem. It looked better early on in this one but fell asleep late. The pitching isn’t going to be spectacular forever, so the bats are going to have to help carry the club at some point. Braves 5, Pirates 4 / Box / 2013 Record: 35-24 / Next: Wednesday, at Braves, 12:10 Source: FanGraphs
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