After last night’s game, I got this tweet and thought it raised a very valid point:
Today was the complete opposite, but the end result was the same. The Pirates knocked off the Royals again, completing a sweep and moving within a half-game of the Reds (who play tonight vs. Detroit).
Andrew McCutchen was the only offense this afternoon. He doubled home a run in the first inning and smashed a 2-run shot off Bruce Chen in the third. That shouldn’t be much of a surprised…Chen’s a lefty, and Cutch has been absolutely lethal against lefties all season (.442/.464/.731 ENTERING the game today). Chen finally wised up and intentionally walked him the next time he came up, but by then it was far too late.
In fact, the only out McCutchen made all afternoon wasn’t really an out. He popped a foul ball to right in the bottom of the seventh, and KC RF Mitch Maier appeared to make a sensational catch while flipping over the railing, landing head-first on the concrete. Except, nobody saw him drop the ball after falling over the fence until ROOT picked it up on the replay. The ball rolled under Maier’s back, but nobody saw that so he picked it up and waved it to the ump, who called the out.
The rest of the offense was almost completely silent all afternoon, but McCutchen’s effort alone was enough for A.J. Burnett and company. A.J. came out firing, working quickly and getting through innings with ease. He was perfect into the fourth before walking a batter, and had a no hitter going until a one-out single broke it up in the sixth. That wasn’t a problem for Burnett, though, as he worked around it and kept throwing well. The Royals picked up a run in the seventh, but A.J. didn’t really run out of gas until the eight, when he put two one with one out. Great job by Burnett to deliver yet again at home and eat up some innings for the tired bullpen.
Tony Watson got the second out of the eighth but a run scored in the process. He then walked a batter to move the tying run in to scoring position, and all of a sudden things were looking pretty dicey. Juan Cruz then came on and walked another batter to loade the bases, but got an enormous strikeout of Maier (karma!) to end the threat.
Jason Grilli came in for the ninth since Joel Hanrahan had been used three days in a row. He allowed a leadoff single, but the Royals gave the Bucs an out with a sac-bunt and Grilli took care of the other two with strikeouts.
The Pirates didn’t play great all-around baseball in any of the three games this weekend, but they did the job and swept the inferior Royals out of town in front of three great crowds. This was the first Bucco interleague sweep since 2001, and it’s great to see them take care of business.
Pirates 3, Royals 2 / Box / 2012 Record: 32-27 / Next: Tuesday, at Orioles, 7:05
MVP: McCutchen (+.290) / LVP: Harrison (-.042) / Key play: Cutch’s HR
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