Life After Littlefield: Pirates weekend series against Cincinnati

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Jarrod Blumer, Contributor

After being blown out in the last game of the Arizona series and losing Wandy Rodriguez for at least one start, it seemed like the Pirates were in for a rough series against the NL Central powerhouse Reds.

Friday’s game had AJ Burnett going against Cincinnati’s Mike Leake, and for the third straight game AJ put his team in a position to win the game has we went 6 innings, giving up just 3 runs and striking out 8.  An RBI single in the first by Russell Martin gave the Pirates an early lead and 2-run singles by Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen in the 2nd followed that up.  For the first time all season AJ received some run support, however that wasn’t enough as when he left with a 2 run lead before the start of the 7th, reliever Tony Watson promptly gave up a 2-run homerun to Brandon Phillips (his second HR of the game), tying the game at 5.  But Andrew McCutchen took over in the bottom of the seventh and as the first batter of the inning, he took J.J. Hoover to deep left field for a solo homerun, giving Pittsburgh a 6-5 lead.  The score would stay that way for the rest of the game as Melancon and Grilli once again put up scoreless innings to end the game. Final score 6-5.

Saturday had Jeff Locke facing off against Johnny Cueto. Not a favorable pitching matchup for Pittsburgh.  But Locke kept them in the game giving up just one run in 5 innings of work.  Cueto left the game in the 5th with a right lat strain, but not before giving up an RBI double to Garrett Jones. Then the Pirates got to Cincy’s bullpen once again with a Marte had an RBI single and a Tabata RBI double.  And for the second straight night, Melancon and Grilli were perfect in the 8th and 9th.  Final score 3-1.

The game on Sunday was an eventful one at that.  Phil Irwin made is ML debut and went up against Mat Latos in this one.  Irwin was borderline terrible to start the game as the game started with a single, 2 walks, and a 2 run single. His second was no different, as he gave up 2 more runs as Shin-Soo Choo doubled in two. Obviously you can’t expect him to be perfect in his couple innings ever, and he actually settled in nicely after that rough start.  He ended his day going 4.2 innings, giving p 5 runs, and walking 4.  Not exactly what you wanted, but it could have been a lot worse.  Contrary to popular belief, the Pirates did get to bat in this game, however they didn’t do much until the 7th inning.  The inning started with a Michael McKenry solo homerun, followed by RBI doubles from Travis Snider and McCutchen, and ended with an RBI single from Garrett Jones.

The 8th inning was similar to previous as the Pirates tagged Jonathan Broxton with a 2 run homerun for Michael McKenry, a 2 run homerun for Starling Marte, a sac fly for Gaby Sanchez, and the inning ended with a RBI single by Walker off of Aroldis Chapman.  For the third straight game Melancon finished off the game nicely, even though he surrendered a solo homerun to Joey Votto, this time without the help of Jason Grilli. Final score 10-7.

The sweep brings the Pirates to 6-6 on the year and they have the St. Louis Cardinals coming in to start the week.  First pitch tonight was at 7:05 PM, with J-Mac taking on Lance Lynn. Look for Pedro to breakout of his slump this week.