The Pirates looked like a mess in the early stages of Monday night’s game, but corrected things quickly and blew out the lowly Astros 11-2.
James McDonald got off to a very bad start and looked a lot like the J-Mac of last season. He walked the leadoff man on three pitches, then walked two more later in the inning and allowed an early run. McDonald was sloppy with his control in spurts in later innings as well – he even walked the pitcher after intentionally walking the 8 hitter to face him. (Then he got an out to escape the inning anyway). James walked five on the night, but the good news was he only allowed four hits and was able to post a bunch of zeroes despite the control issues.
The Pirate offense also looked awful early on against Jordan Lyles, going hitless the first time through the lineup. That all changed the second time around, though. Alex Presley tripled off the RF wall, and although he was stranded, Andrew McCutchen started things up again in the next inning. Cutch worked the count nicely and ripped a leadoff single, and then the floodgates opened up. Garrett Jones was up next, and roped a ball down the line and off the foul pole for a 2-run shot. Neil Walker then came up and skied one in the same direction….and it hit the pole for a homer as well! Back-to-back homers off the same foul pole…crazy! The Bucs were “pole dancing,” as Steve Blass said at the time.
The offense was done hitting homers for the night, but didn’t stop the assault on Lyles and the Houston pen. Casey McGehee doubled and Clint Barmes singled him home for a fourth run. The the Bucs went right back to work in the next inning, posting another four-spot with four extra base hits–all of them consecutive except for a Walker walk. Drew Sutton tripled to the notch, McCutchen doubled down the line, then Jones and McGehee added doubles of their own. Blowout time, 8-1.
McDonald allowed a solo shot but somehow managed to get through seven innings, which seemed amazing after his early struggles. Jared Hughes went the rest of the way, and the Bucs tacked on three more in the later innings on a Jones RBI single (his first hit all year against a lefty! … although it was a swinging bunt) and a Walker 2 RBI double.
The bats picked up where they left off over the weekend and feasted on some bad pitching, just as they should. Let’s hope this keeps up all week, because it is pretty awesome to see the Pirates smack the ball all over the park to the delight of a pretty decent weeknight crowd. The crowds are going to keep getting bigger, the Cutch M-V-P chants are going to get louder, and the Jolly Rogers will keep on waving across PNC. Pretty awesome stuff on a Monday night.
Pirates 11, Astros 2 / Box / 2012 Record: 43-36 / Next: Tuesday, vs. Astros, 7:05
MVP: Jones (+.241) / LVP: McKenry (-.040) / Key play: Jones’ HR
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