The Pirates’ momentum (and/or luck) ran out on Monday night, as the Phillies surprisingly outpitched them and were able to pull off a narrow one-run victory. The Bucs fall to 10-9 and now face an uphill climb for the rest of this four game set on the other side of the state.
Over the weekend against the Braves, the Pirates won a couple of games in which the pitching matchup didn’t look good. On Monday, the opposite happened: the Bucs had A.J. Burnett going against a somewhat unheralded prospect making his MLB debut…and the Phillies came out with the victory. Burnett seemed off for most of the evening. He still struck out his fair share (seven) but had to work very hard for each one. AJ seemed to have some extra movement on his fastball and while that can often be a good thing, he didn’t seem to be able to control it too well on this night. He walked three, hit a batter, and constantly found himself in deep counts struggling to put hitters away. Eventually he was able to get some big outs and he certainly did a good job keeping the damage from getting much worse, but the Pirates would’ve loved some more innings out of AJ tonight.
The offense never really was able to get going off the rookie Jonathan Pettibone. Pettibone didn’t seem all that impressive with his stuff (despite a startling six strikeouts) but did a good job attacking Pirate hitters and getting some quick outs. The Pirates got a few great swings off of him but were never able to sustain any kind of rally. Pedro Alvarez hit an absolute laser for a homer in the second inning and Russell Martin delivered a bomb in the fifth – both very impressive shots, but both of the solo variety.
The Pirates lost the battle of bullpens for the second time this season, and for the second time Jared Hughes was the culprit. In a tie game in the sixth, Hughes walked Erik Kratz with two outs and then induced a slow bouncer that turned in to a hit. Jimmy Rollins then delivered a liner to put the Phils ahead – the Bucs proceeded to throw the ball around a bit and create more of a mess, but Hughes escaped further damage with a K. Jared probably should’ve been out of the inning with the slow bouncer but he’s still been the weak link of the bullpen so far, and he has to be in danger of winding up in Indianapolis when Jose Contreras joins the team.
Vin Mazzaro proceeded to throw two scoreless to keep the Bucs in it, but the Phillies pen was able to nail down a win despite a leadoff single by Pedro off a lefty specialist in the 7th and a 1-out double by Garrett Jones off Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. The Bucs caught a few bad breaks on the offensive side tonight, but in truth they didn’t do enough against the rookie Pettibone.
With the loss in the series opener, the Pirates don’t seem to be in great shape for the rest of the series…but we’ve seen how pitching matchups haven’t really seemed to matter lately. Let’s hope this disappointing loss in a very winnable game doesn’t halt too much of the momentum the Bucs built up over the homestand last week.
This was the first game of the season in which the Pirates did not draw a single walk.
When the Bucs employed a defensive shift against Ryan Howard in the sixth inning, Pedro Alvarez ended up in the shortstop position and made a great turn on a double play.
Burnett walked Pettibone in his first career plate appearance. It was that kind of night for AJ.
The Bucs were 0-for-8 with RISP on the night.
Phillies 3, Pirates 2 / Box / 2013 Record: 10-9 / Next: Tuesday, at Phillies, 7:05