Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/23/13
So far there is plenty of reason to think that this 2013 Pirates season will a special one, but Sunday’s game definitely had a “team of destiny” feel to it. The Bucs pulled off a dramatic rally and just barely held on to complete a ridiculous win and a sweep of Angels. Most of this game was a total mess. Charlie Morton had a typical Charlie Morton start from the days of old – he didn’t pitch that badly, but a bunch of softly hit balls found holes and the defense was atrocious. The infield made three errors behind him and three of the five runs in a disastrous second inning were unearned. Morton still had problems of his own, though – he walked five and only made it through 5.2 innings. It wasn’t a good start, but some routine defensive plays would have helped quite a bit. The Angels had their own defensive problems throughout the day as well, though, and that helped the Bucs get back in to the game with two runs in the third. Pedro Alvarez didn’t need any help from the defense in the first inning – he homered yet again to make it four games in a row with a bomb. The guy is just scorching hot. After that, though, Joe Blanton shut the Bucs down for the most part and overcame the Angels’ defensive miscues to go seven strong innings with a comfortable lead.  From the fourth through the eighth inning, no Pirate reached base. The Bucs trailed 6-3 for most of the late innings thanks to good work by the rarely used Ryan Reid out of the bullpen. Then Duke Welker – who has spent a lot of time on the roster without pitching – made his debut and posted a 1-2-3 inning as well. It looked like a footnote, but the Bucs would later change that. Welker’s debut was only the second-most celebrated debut of the game – Tony Sanchez started at DH and lined an outside pitch sharply the other way in his first at bat. Tony will never forget it – especially because the ball somehow stuck in the fence for a ground rule double. The grounds crew needed a ladder at the inning break to dislodge it. Sanchez ended up 1-for-3 on the day, and the weird bounce probably cost the Bucs a run – Neil Walker probably would’ve scored from first on the play. It looked like that run would be meaningless until the ninth, when the Bucs did something they hadn’t done since 2009 – pull off a 3-run ninth inning comeback.  Walker started it with a walk, and Gaby Sanchez singled to put the tying run at the plate. Travis Snider popped out, and pinch hitter Andrew McCutchen hit into a fielder’s choice for another out. That brought up Russell Martin, another pinch hitter, and he pounded what briefly looked like a tying homer to left. Instead it went off the wall for a double. Starling Marte was next, and he quickly fell behind 0-2…but battled and eventually lined closer Ernesto Frieri‘s pitch into left for the game tying base hit. The Bucs came up big twice with two outs and two strikes and made it a new ballgame. Mark Melancon worked a seven-pitch bottom of the ninth and the offense went right back to work in the tenth. Alvarez led off by crushing one past Mike Trout (who ran past it, amazingly) in center for a double. Because of all the switches and pinch hitters the Bucs had used in the AL setting, the pitcher Melancon was due up next so Clint Barmes laid down a “pinch sacrifice bunt.” Walker walked, as did Gaby, to load the bases for Travis Snider with one out…and Snider came up huge with a liner to left that somehow squirted past the outfielder for three runs. Two more base hits by Martin and McCutchen added a fourth – and the Bucs would need it. Jason Grilli had been warming up already, so he came in despite the four run lead…and that did not go well, at all. Grilli had his worst outing of the season – the Angels ripped five base hits after a leadoff strikeout, followed by one flyout somewhere in the middle. All of a sudden, last year’s near-MVP Trout was at the plate with the tying run at 3rd and the winning run at 2nd. That’s when the 2013 Grilli we know returned and struck Trout out to win it. So the Bucs ended up with a road sweep – their first road interleague sweep EVER – and they’ve won four straight. There’s still a lot to like right now and obviously a win like this could give them even more momentum.This game looked like a typical sloppy afternoon that’ll happen on occasion, but the furious rally (and some help from the awful Angels) erased it. Like I said, this is the sort of game that really gives you the sense that something special is taking place. Pirates 10, Angels 9 / Box / 2013 Record: 46-30 / Next: Tuesday, at Mariners, 10:10 Source: FanGraphs
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