Bucs walks hurt in 6-5 loss to Rockies
The Pirates opportunity to split the series against the Colorado Rockies came to and end in the 7th inning after Rookie Mike Crotta walked three batters, including the go-ahead run, as the Rockies went on to win the game and take the series, 6-5 at PNC Park on Sunday.
Crotta, for the first time all spring and season, looked like a Rookie on the mound. Crotta made it through four appearances this season without allowing a run.
Crotta look over for starter James McDonald with one on (Dexter Fowler) and two out. He walked Jonathan Herrera, then allowed Jason Giambi to hit a single, scoring the game tying run.
Crotta’s inability to throw strikes continued as he walked Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases. The next batter, Seth Smith was walked as well, putting the Rockies on top, 6-5.
Crotta threw 21 pitches –just seven for strikes.
Crotta told Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette, “Just didn’t execute my pitches. My job is to come in and get outs. You can’t get outs when you walk people.”
“There are eight guys out there. If they put it in play, chances are they will hit it at somebody. When you walk somebody, there’s nothing anyone can do to help you.”
It wasn’t just Crotta who had trouble throwing strikes, Right-hander James McDonald made his second appearance of the season, and he had a rough first inning.
McDonald threw 38 pitches in the first. He walked two, and also hit Chris Ianetta in the inning. Nine men came to the plate, and four runs scored, including a three run homer by Jose Lopez.
Lopez told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I asked everybody in the dugout, ‘How’s the fastball? ‘Is it moving? Not moving?’ Everybody said, ‘Straight.’ I saw two men on base, so I wanted to swing at the first-pitch fastball.”
McDonald told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I had a talk with myself [after the inning] that I needed to really pick it up and keep the team in the game. I had to motivate myself to hold that game, keep it close.”
McDonald did just that. He threw just 65 pitches over the next 5.2 innings, allowing just three hits and kept the Rockies scoreless.
So what clicked for McDonald after a rough first inning? Advice from Catcher, Ryan Doumit.
McDonald told Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette, “Told him to pound that two-seam fastball, forget the four-seamer,” Doumit said, referring to a sinker over the standard fastball. “He has really good downward action on [the two-seam fastball] and it makes it tough to put it in the air.”
McDonald told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “It’s always a good step when your team is still in the game when you come out. I showed that I’m out there competing. I showed my team that I’m not going to give up. It was big for me to go back out there and hold those guys scoreless.”
The Pirates put one run on the board in the first inning and tied the game at 4 in the third. Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch and Neil Walker singled to start the inning. Andrew McCutchen hit a RBI single to left field, and both advanced to second and third base on the throwing error by Carlos Gonzalez. Lyle Overbay hit a double down the right field line to tie the game at 4.
McDonald helped out his own cause in the 4th, by hitting a single and scoring the go ahead run. J-Mac told Jenifer Langosh of MLB.com in the spring that he wanted to have 10 hits this year. He’s got one down, nine to go.
The game stayed 5-4, until the 7th inning when Crotta allowed the two runs to score. The Pirates were unable to come up with a hit in the final three innings, as the Rockies went on the beat the Bucs, 6-5 and take the series win.
The Pirates have issued 46 walks so far the season –the most in the majors, including seven on Sunday.
Manager Clint Hurdle told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “We’ve got to do better. Being concerned about it isn’t going to get the job done. Guys have got to throw strikes and get hitters out.”
The Bucs fall to 5-5 on the season.