HOW WILL PIRATES RESPOND AFTER DEVASTATING LOSS?
There are 162 games in baseball and Friday night’s Pirates 9-8 loss to the San Diego Padres is just 1 of 162. ” If you played sports, there’s going to be disappointments, especially in baseball,….. 162 games, ” manager Clint Hurdle said. However, the Pirates stunning collapse in the ball game, leading 7-1 in the fifth inning, is surely making some fans wonder if this goes on to become a loss that begins to derail the Pirates season like the Jerry Meals incident last July.
“It’s tough to lose a game like this but there aren’t too many seasons where you don’t have a game or two like this and maybe a lot more if you don’t have a good club, ” Hurdle said. “We’ll claw back, though, because that’s what we do.”
That’s what the Pirates always seem to do this year (claw back) but all eyes are now on how the Pirates respond moving forward after the stunning loss where James McDonald (10-5, 3.77 ERA) gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings and pitched a disastrous fifth inning where McDonald surrendered six runs with a 7-1 lead, highlighted by Chase Headley’s three run homer in the fifth to tie the game at 7-7 and then Headley hit a two-run blast off Tony Watson in the seventh inning to give the Padres a 9-8 lead, just after the Pirates regained the lead again in the sixth inning.
The good news for the Pirates tonight is that they have their stopper taking the mound in A.J. Burnett.
WHAT TO DO WITH JAMES MCDONALD
James McDonald went from retiring 10 straight batters after the first inning to giving up six runs in the fifth inning as his second-half woes continue. In 4 1/3 innings, he gave up seven hits and seven runs. McDonald is now 1-2 with an 8.71 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break after going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 17 first-half starts.
Where he goes from here mentally will be something to watch as McDonald is still just in his second full season as a regular starting pitcher in the rotation.
“This loss is on me, McDonald said. “I let those guys down, nobody feels worse than me. Sloppy performance by me. I let team down today, big time.”
Manager Clint Hurdle on McDonald. “After first inning, retired 10 in a row and then breaking ball seemed to left him, ” Hurdle said.
Kevin Correia is becoming a factor again in the rotation as he will now make another regular start next week
HEADLEY LOVES PLAYING IN PITTSBURGH
San Diego extended their winning streak in Pittsburgh to 10 games and haven’t lost at PNC Park since Sept. 18, 2009. The Padres are in fact 27-9 all-time at PNC Park.
Chase Headley who the Pirates aggressively pursued at the deadline, was the star of the night, hitting a three-run and two-run homers from opposite sides of the plate and driving in five runs in the game.
Headley said this is one of his favorite places to play and don’t be surprised if the Pirates go hard after him again in the off-season via trade.
“This is my favorite place to play on the road because it’s such a beautiful ballpark and I have a lot of family here, ” Headley said, whose parents grew up in Meadville, Pa. for a period. “It’s always exciting for me to come here and it seems like the whole team gets excited. I don’t know the exact reason why but we always seem to play our best baseball here.”
The Pirates who are 3-5 in their last eight games, enter Saturday’s action trailing the Cincinnati Reds by 3.5 games for the NL Central lead, while the battle for the second wildcard spot is getting tight with St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Francisco 2.5 games back of the Pirates.
NL CENTRAL STANDINGS
1. Cincinnati Reds (67-46)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (63-49, 3.5 GB)
3. St. Louis Cardinals (61-52, 6 GB)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (51-60, 15 GB)
5. Chicago Cubs (44-67, 22 GB)
6. Houston Astros (37-77, 30.5 GB
WILD CARD STANDINGS
1. Atlanta Braves (65-47)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (63-49)
3. LA Dodgers (61-52, 2.5 GB, tied with SFG for NL West Lead)
4. San Francisco Giants (61-52, 2.5 GB, tied with LAD for NL West Lead)
5. St. Louis Caridnals (61-52, 2.5 GB)