Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/19/14
The Pirates fell to the Dodgers in a wild, wild game on Saturday afternoon, evening this weekend’s series. Brandon Cumpton immediately caught everyone’s attention with an incredible start to his big league debut. The righty isn’t known as a big strikeout guy, but he went right at the Dodgers and struck out all three batters in the first inning – then tacked on two more in the second. He set down the first eight before walking Clayton Kershaw, and put four zeroes on the board to start the game. Pretty cool stuff for a kid who most didn’t really expect anything from coming in to the game. Meanwhile, the Bucs got a quick run off Kershaw in the first (thanks to an airmailed throw by Hanley Ramirez) and you had to start thinking they had a chance at pulling off an improbable victory. Both pitchers settled in to their expected forms in the middle innings, though. The Dodgers started hitting Cumpton and didn’t strike out against him the rest of the way. Kershaw went in to cruise control and posted seven strong innings while allowing just three hits. Cumpton left the game trailing 2-1 in the sixth, and an inherited runner scored off Bryan Morris to make it 3-1. Morris and Justin Wilson (who was throwing HEAT – he hit 100!) did a nice job keeping the Dodgers at three runs. The Pirates did have one big opportunity (after the first) off Kershaw, and came inches short of a big blow. Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the fifth and Gaby Sanchez reached on a rare catcher interference call. Then Russell Martin got a hold of a high fastball and pounded it to left…but Skip Schumaker caught it while standing against the wall – robbing a 3-run homer. The Bucs couldn’t get anything else out of the inning. Once Kershaw was out of the game (after 7), though, the Bucs mounted their comeback. Jordy Mercer started the eighth with a hit, Cutch walked, and with two outs Neil Walker came up big (batting righty) with an RBI single. They still needed a run in the ninth, though, and Travis Snider delivered it all by himself off fireballing closer Kenley Jansen. Snider’s clutch 1-out bomb tied the game, and  the Bucs had to be feeling good about their chances in extras. They haven’t won a game in which they trailed in the 9th inning yet this year, but had a chance to change that. It didn’t happen, but might have if Nick Leyva had made a gamble. Martin worked a 2-out walk in the tenth and Walker ripped another big hit – a double to the RF corner. Martin chugged to third but Leyva held him up – and then the throw sailed WELL off target. Root Sports showed a great camera angle that basically showed Leyva’s point of view, and it made his decision seem like the right one. Martin was well short of third base by the time Yasiel Puig picked up the ball at the Clemente wall, and Puig has a great arm. If Puig had hit the cut off man, a routine throw by an infielder would have easily nailed Martin. If Puig hadn’t hit the cutoff man but made a throw on-line, he still probably had Martin out. It turned out his throw did neither of those things, but Leyva didn’t know that until it was too late. Pedro Alvarez was intentionally walked and Michael McKenry popped out, ending the threat. That would be costly for the Bucs. Mark Melancon had tossed a 5-pitch 10th but was pinch-hit for so he couldn’t come back out (I don’t know if Hurdle would’ve considered it). Jason Grilli wasn’t used, though, and Vin Mazzaro is, well, not as good. He had a rough inning and allowed two runs. The Bucs got two on in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t get them home, finishing a difficult loss. You can’t feel too badly about the Bucs dropping a matchup in which they threw a spot starter against a Cy Young winner, but they had several chances to win it and came just short. It was a good battle and a fun game, but a frustrating defeat. Rubber match tomorrow. Dodgers 5, Pirates 3 / Box / 2013 Record: 40-28 / Next: Sunday, vs. Dodgers, 1:35 Source: FanGraphs
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