When the Bucs replaced Karstens after just one inning, the panic button went on. The Bucs bullpen has been less than stellar this year and now they would have to pitch for at least 8 innings if they wanted to try to pull out a win. The good news for the pen? The Pirates offense finally woke up, thanks in large part to Garret Jones and Andrew McCutchen.
Jones was a triple away from the cycle and knocked in three runs off of a solo shot and double both times helping the Bucs stay in the game. Defensively, the Bucs were sound and Jared Hughes set the tone for the Pirates makeshift pitching performance.
Hughes went two and 2/3 with one run allowed. He was followed up by Tony Watson who completed Hughes’ innings and went another two before Evan Meek pitched a scoreless inning. Jason Grili gave up the game tying run off of a homer in eighth, putting the pressure on the Bucs’ offense in the ninth.
The Pirates pulled off another two out nine inning rally with Andrew McCutchen playing the role of hero again. McCutchen battled at the plate and managed to hit a slider low and away off the end of his bat for a bloop single that scored Alex Presley.
With the score now 5-4 Pirates, Clint Hurdle sent Juan Cruz out to finish off the D-Backs instead of Joel Hannerhan. It turns out he has tightness in his hamstring and will try to be rested until Friday’s home game versus St. Louis. The good news is that Hurdle picked the right guy has Cruz set Arizona down in order to close out the game and earn his first official save since 2009.
In my mind, this was a huge win for the Pirates as they were pegged to lose this one. Going up against Ian Kennedy and losing Karstens (we won’t know for how long until he’s back in Pittsburgh) was a recipe for disaster. Furthermore, many were critical of how Hurdle managed the seventh inning but in the end the Pirates come away with a win and a chance to win their first series on the road.
James McDonald will take the mound for Pittsburgh in a game that should be interesting. Daniel Hudson has been bad this season leaving the door open for the Pirates to grab another win. If the Pirates do win, they would be 5-7 after playing the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants and D-Backs. Not too shabby after all.