This game was extremely frustrating for a number of reasons. The Pirates fell behind as quickly as possible, couldn’t get back in it despite numerous chances, and once again came out on the wrong side of a semi-beanball battle.
Jonathan Sanchez has to be done as a Pirate. Has to be. Today he took his awfulness to a whole new level, and there’s no reason at this point to give him the benefit of the doubt or think he’ll improve. Sanchez DID NOT RECORD AN OUT. The leadoff man homered. The next hitter homered. The next hitter singled and then Sanchez nailed Allen Craig with a high and inside pitch. He was promptly tossed from the game.
The decision by ump Tim Timmons to toss Sanchez was understandable, I guess. He had started the game in the worst way imaginable and then put one near somebody’s head. That said, Sanchez is notoriously one of the wildest pitchers in recent memory – it might not have been intentional. Even so, getting him out of the game at that point wasn’t a bad thing for the Pirates – from the perspective of this game alone. From a long term perspective, though, it forced a taxed bullpen to cover an entire ballgame. That’s really, really bad.
Jeanmar Gomez came on as the long guy and gave the Pirates a chance to get back in the game. He got out of the first with a double play and pitched into the 5th while allowing three more runs – not great, but if the Bucs had been able to do anything on offense, it would’ve been fine. Unfortunately the offense was stymied by Lance Lynn for seven innings. They notched just two hits off him, scoring once on a Pedro sac-fly following a Jones double.
Lynn, however, created more drama by plunking Starling Marte twice – and getting away with it. After Sanchez’s ejection in the first, both benches were warned. Generally when someone is HBP after a warning, the pitcher is tossed. Lynn hit THE SAME GUY twice and ump Tim Timmons apparently had no problem with it, which is ridiculous. Neither pitch to Marte showed obvious intent, but when you warn a guy and he hits the same batter two times, how do you keep him in? Not only that, but when the Pirate bench barked at Timmons with this very complaint, Timmons tossed hitting coach Jay Bell (Hurdle had been ejected earlier with Sanchez). Absurd.
The Bucs “retaliated” when Jared Hughes threw high and tight to Lynn when he attempted a sac-bunt. Lynn was able to evade it and there were no further discussions. Gaby Sanchez was also hit later in the game and nothing happened. Anyway, the best way for the Bucs to retaliate would have been to come back – and despite a miserable feel to the entire game, they came close twice. Andrew McCutchen bounced out in the 5th when he came to the plate as the tying run with two outs, but the bigger blow came in the eighth. Down 5-1, the Bucs loaded the bases with 1 out for Pedro Alvarez. The Cards brought in a lefty, of course, and Pedro was able to lay off the typical outside off-speed stuff………but instead he bounced an inside sinker to second for a double play. Ugh.
That may not have mattered, because Vin Mazzaro had his first bad outing as a Buc in the bottom of the eighth and the Cards put up a 4-spot to make it a blowout. Gomez and Hughes did a nice job eating some innings and keeping the game somewhat close, but the final score seemed appropriate for what was really a miserable night.
McCutchen was double-switched out of the game after his groundout in the 5th. He’s been slumping and it enabled the new pitcher Hughes to stay in as long as possible without batting…but still…taking out Cutch down just 5 in the middle of the game? He was clearly angry with the decision and slowly walked off the field. That was handled poorly by Cutch and Jeff Banister.
Sanchez was the first Bucco starter that failed to record an out since Ross Ohlendorf (who came out due to injury) in August 2010.
The plan was for Francisco Liriano to come up after one more rehab start, but he pitched great on Thursday in AAA. Why not bring him up now? If not him, then Phil Irwin, Andy Oliver….someone from AAA, or even let Gomez start a game. Not Sanchez again.
In fact, I’d like to see the Pirates DFA Sanchez immediately and bring up an extra bullpen arm – since they desperately need some. They can make another move for a starter to take his spot when the time comes in 5 days.
Neil Walker came out in the 8th with an injury to his right index finger.
Cardinals 9, Pirates 1 / Box / 2013 Record: 13-10 / Next: Saturday, at Cardinals, 4:15