Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 4/18/13
It was a battle of long balls on Thursday night at PNC Park, and even though the Pirates got two big blasts they’d been waiting a while for, the Braves still managed to come out on top. Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez both got on the board in 2013, each pounding a solo homer in the second and fourth innings respectively. They were absolute BOMBS too–Pedro’s hit at least halfway up the green batter’s eye in center field, which is about as far as I can remember any Pirate homer at PNC. The Pirates seemed to be in the zone early on against Braves starter Julio Teheran, and they were able to capitalize for four runs in the first five innings. Travis Snider had another productive night with two doubles and a walk, and Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen both delivered a double as well. Unfortunately, those early runs were simply keeping the Pirates in the game rather than building a lead. Jeff Locke was mediocre at best, as he gave up some homers of his own. Both Upton brothers got him as well as Chris Johnson, and Jeff also walked four. He seemed to have slightly better stuff than his previous stuff and got several swings and misses (and three K’s), but missed badly with his location too often which led to the walks and homers. The game was tied at four when both starters exited after five innings, and for the first time this season the Pirates lost the battle of the bullpens. Justin Wilson tossed 1.1 scoreless, but Jared Hughes was called upon next for two innings of work. The first one went fine but the second one featured a leadoff walk and a pinch-hit blast by the upstart Braves pinch hitter Evan Gattis. Hughes has been pretty shaky in most of his outings this season and it’s easy to question Clint Hurdle for letting him pitch a second inning, but the Bucs’ bullpen has been significantly overworked with starters struggling to go deep into games. They are going to need everyone to get big outs at this rate, although now it may be worth investigating moving Hughes down in the pecking order. Meanwhile, the Braves’ bullpen was lights-out (as it usually is). The Pirates had been looking good at the plate early in the game but couldn’t get anything going once Teheran was gone. Starling Marte, the offense’s most consistent spark this year, had his hitting streak snapped with a horrible 0-for-5, 5 strikeout night. No Pirate reached base after the 5th. Tough loss, but you can’t expect the bullpen to be perfect every time. That said, the Pirates missed an opportunity to beat Teheran, who is by far the worst starter they’ll face this weekend. Looking at the pitching matchups for the rest of the series, tomorrow is a pretty crucial game if the Bucs are going to avoid a sweep. Braves 6, Pirates 4 / Box / 2013 Record: 7-8 / Next: Friday, vs. Braves, 7:05 Source: FanGraphs
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