Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 8/11/12

The Pirates blew two leads and lost an in gut-punch fashion to the Padres on Friday night, 9-8. San Diego won its fifth in a row and tenth in a row at PNC Park, while the Bucs lost a game in the division to the Reds and fell to 2-3 on the homestand.

The frustration started and (mostly) ended with James McDonald. J-Mac, coming off a pretty decent start on the biggest of stages last Saturday in Cincinnati, quickly allowed a leadoff home run to put the Bucs in an early hole and darken the mood. The Pirates then put men at the corners with no outs in the bottom of the first inning and didn’t score. Not a good start.

McDonald and the Bucs turned things around in the next frame. J-Mac set down three straight, then keyed a rally with a two out walk (following Clint Barmes‘ single). Starling Marte then singled (for the second straight AB) to tie the game.

Then J-Mac got in to a groove and the Bucs kept hitting. Garrett Jones blasted his 17th homer in the third inning, Travis Snider destroyed a three run bomb in the fourth for his first Bucco blast, and McDonald set down 11 in a row. He was rolling, and the Bucs were in total control of the game after Pedro Alvarez delivered a two-run line drive single up the middle to make the score 7-1.

Just as quickly as he seemed to figure things out, though, McDonald completely lost it. He yielded a one-out walk then FIVE straight hits in the fifth, the last being an absolute moon shot by Chase Headley to tie the game. With the lead down to three, the tying run at the plate, and the Padres’ best hitter Headley at the plate, I don’t think McDonald had any business staying in the game, but Clint Hurdle seems to really like letting his starters go five innings no matter what. That backfired big-time here.

As for McDonald, I don’t really know what to think about him. I was encouraged with the Cincinnati start, and while this one obviously ended in disaster he did have that nice run of 11 in a row. He seems to have reverted in to the old inconsistent J-Mac–the guy that can look great one second and horrible the next. It’s awfully frustrating after seeing him lose that inconsistency in the first half. Is he fatigued? Should he skip a start?  Bullpen? (I wouldn’t go that far.)

Anyway, the game was not lost at that point, only tied. Chris Resop did a nice job out of the bullpen to put up two zeroes, but the Bucco offense slowed down once Edinson Volquez was lifted in the fourth. They scratched out a run in the sixth, though, on a Jones walk and singles by Alvarez and Rod Barajas. That put the Bucs back up by one and gave the bullpen a chance to close out a win.

Unfortunately, Headley (who was an outside trade target in July) became the third player to homer twice in the same game against the Pirates this week. He did it from the other side of the plate in the seventh inning against Tony Watson, and it was a two-run shot (following a two out walk) to put the Padres back on top. The San Diego bullpen shut things down from there, and that was that.

Not good. The Bucs blew a six run lead, then blew another lead with the bullpen…against a pretty bad offensive team. McDonald continues to be a serious concern, and it hurts even more to lose a game like that in front of a big crowd.

Padres 9, Pirates 8 / Box / 2012 Record: 63-49 / Next: Saturday, vs. Padres, 7:05

MVP: Snider (+.169) / LVP: Watson (-.370) / Key play: Headley’s 2nd HR

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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