A walk off homer by Andrew McCutchen gave the Bucs a thrilling 12-inning win over the Brewers on Tuesday night.
Cutch had hit two balls very well earlier in the game only to see them die at the warning track, and he had suffered a similar fate in Monday’s game. When he flew out to the right-center field wall in the seventh, though, it showed that he was ready to go off – he’s at his best when he’s driving the ball to that part of the park. The bomb leading off the 12th was to the same part of the field – but that time it cleared the wall. (Cutch wasn’t sure at first.)
There were several other nice things about the game besides the walk off blast. Jeff Locke posted a quality start – he allowed some more hits than his past few games, resulting in three runs – but he struck out six, walked one, and went six innings. That’s a good outing. Jeff lasted longer than Brewers starter Kyle Lohse, who walked five and allowed five hits. The Bucs scored twice against him but couldn’t come up with a big hit with RISP – a theme for the entire night.
The Pirates broke through in the eighth against John Axford – the same guy they staged a comeback against two weeks ago at Miller Park. Neil Walker led off with a bloop hit and with one out, Russell Martin doubled to the corner. Walker chugged around the bases and was waved home by Rick Sofield – probably an ill-advised decision because a good throw would have been well on time, but it worked out for the best as the throw was way off target. The Bucs couldn’t get the go ahead run home, but they were in much better shape with the game tied. Martin was enormous in his first game back in the lineup – the Brewers stole zero bases (and he threw out one runner), plus he doubled twice and walked. Good to have him back.
Clint Hurdle reversed course from the game against the Nationals in the previous homestand and opted to use Jason Grilli in the ninth inning of a tie game. Grilli responded by striking out all three men he faced. The Bucs were in position to win it for Grilli in the bottom of the ninth, but Garrett Jones bounced in to a perfect shift for a double-play. Mark Melancon was also used in a tie game, and that also worked out well (although he gave up two hits). When the Bucs failed to score again, Vin Mazzaro took care of two strong innings and eventually got the win when Cutch won it in the twelfth. Great work by the bullpen (including Bryan Morris, who posted two zeroes when the Bucs were still trailing in the 7th and 8th).
Jose Tabata had another big night – three hits, including two doubles.
John McDonald came in to the game as part of a double switch in the 11th. He smoked a liner towards LF and was robbed of an extra base hit on a great play by Ryan Braun. He then had to leave the game with discomfort in his lower back.
Speaking of Braun, he doubled twice but hit into a key double play in extras as the very small but vocal crowd chanted “STERRR–OIIIDDDS ” during the entire at bat.
Pedro Alvarez pounded a ball to the left-center field warning track in his first AB for a long fly out. That’s encouraging for him, but he went on to strike out the next three times up.
Neil Walker had a productive night – he was on base four times.
Home plate ump Fieldin Culbreth (in the news recently for messing up a ruling in Houston, resulting in a suspension) was struck by a foul ball in the eleventh. It didn’t look good, and the crew had to finish the game without him. Hopefully he’s OK.
This was the Bucs’ first extra inning game of the year. They were the only team that hadn’t played in one before tonight.
Cutch got the pie treatment from AJ after the game, but he knew it was coming:
Pirates 4, Brewers 3 / Box / 2013 Record: 22-17 / Next: Wednesday, vs. Brewers, 7:05
Source: FanGraphs GIF’s via @CorkGaines