Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 5/22/12

The Pirates’ hitters and defense let them down on Tuesday night, as they wasted yet another strong starting pitching effort and lost to the Mets 3-2.

James McDonald was fantastic, again. It’s clear at this point that he is the Pirates’ ace, as he dominated the Mets for much of the night. After striking out the side in the first, J-Mac allowed a run in the second on two walks and a hit. After that, he didn’t walk another and allowed just two more hits. He struck out eight and went seven strong innings. This is becoming routine for McDonald, and it’s awesome to see him reaching his full potential.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for a win. In fact, McDonald pitched from behind for much of the night because R.A. Dickey was even better. The knuckleballer had every Pirate hitter fooled except for Josh Harrison, who had another great game out of the two-spot. Dickey struck out a career-high 11 and pitched five innings of scoreless ball until Harrison tripled and then scored on Andrew McCutchen‘s sac fly. That tied the game, but the Bucs weren’t able to do anything else against Dickey.

Juan Cruz took over for McDonald in the eighth, and the usually reliable righty wasn’t at his best. Cruz allowed a double, a walk, then nearly got out of the inning with a big strikeout of David Wright, but Lucas Duda came up big with a single off Garrret Jones’ glove at first. The double could have been caught by McCutchen, who got a poor read on the line drive to dead center. The single by Duda would have taken a web-gem for Jones to stop, but if he knocks the ball down the run doesn’t score. The next hitter–facing new reliever Chris Resop–grounded a ball to Pedro Alvarez at third. Pedro booted it, then whiffed when he went to pick it up, allowing another run to score. 3-1 Mets thanks to a very sloppy inning on defense.

The Bucs had a bit of a chance to come back in the bottom of the inning. Jose Tabata doubled and scored when second baseman Daniel Murphy couldn’t make a tough play on Cutch’s two-out bloop to right. Cutch then stole second, giving Pedro a chance to redeem himself with a game-tying hit…but he struck out against lefty specialist Tim Byrdak.

The sloppy defense and the rare hiccup from Cruz were frustrating, but the Bucs need to hit more. Harrison was the only one that had good at-bats all night (and they were Harrison-style at-bats…swinging very early in the count). Ugly. At least McDonald turned in another very encouraging performance.

Mets 3, Pirates 2 / Box / 2012 Record: 20-23 / Next: Wednesday, vs. Mets, 12:35

MVP: McDonald (+.169) / LVP: Cruz (-.266) / Key play: Duda’s hit

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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