McDonald struggles, Pirates swept by Marlins
Coming off back-to-back shutouts, the Pirates were looking to end the final game on the road on a high note before heading back to Pittsburgh on Friday. The Bucs finally put some runs on the board, but right-hander James McDonald was chased from the game after just three innings in the 9-5 loss to the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday.
Pedro Alvarez, who didn’t have a RBI in the past 15 games, hit a bullet –estimated at 435 ft– into right field for a solo-home run off Chris Volstad in the 2nd inning. It was Alvarez’s first home run of the season. That one swing also ended the Pirates 23.2 consecutive scoreless inning streak.
Alvarez, who went 3-for-4, was just a triple short from the cycle.
Alvarez told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, It was just a matter of time before some balls fell in. I’ve been constantly working on my approach, working on my routine. There really haven’t been too many changes (to the swing). Just trying to see the ball better, basically.”
The Marlins got to McDonald early, scoring five runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
After allowing a lead-off walk to Gaby Sanchez, Greg Dobbs singled to center field. Mike Stanton drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Scott Cousins hit a grand slam –his first major league career homer– to quickly give the Marlins a 4-1 lead.
McDonald told David Villavicencio of MLB.com, “It was basically right down the middle. I’m not saying he [Cousins] wouldn’t have done the same thing but if I would have thrown a quality pitch down and away I would have had a better shot of getting a ground ball and reducing damage than I would have by throwing a belt-high fastball down the middle.”
With one on and one out, McDonald hit Emilio Bonifacio by a pitch. Omar Infante singled to load the bases (for the second time in the inning). Hanley Ramirez grounded into a force out, but a run scored, giving the Marlins a 5-1 lead.
More trouble came for McDonald in the 3rd, after issuing a leadoff walk to Stanton, Cousins doubled and Bret Hayes hit a three-run homer for a 8-1 lead.
McDonald retired the next two batters to get out of the inning, but was replaced by Daniel McCutchen in the 4th.
McDonald allowed eight runs on six hits (including two home runs) with three walks and three strike outs over three innings.
Manager Clint Hurdle told David Villavicencio of MLB.com, “A swinging bat is a dangerous bat. And pitches, when they’re not located where they’re supposed to be, guys hit them. We had three first home runs of the year. We gave up eight out of nine runs on home runs.”
The Pirates rallied in the 6th inning. Lyle Overbay singled and Neil Walker and Garrett Jones drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez and Chris Snyder each hit RBI singles and Josh Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to cut the lead, 9-5.
The Bucs had just one hit over the final three innings as they went on to lose 9-5.
With the 9-5 loss, the Pirates were swept for the first time this season. The Bucs drop to 8-11 on the season.
“It’s never good to lose three games in a row,” Alvarez said. “But the beauty of it is, tomorrow we get to go out again and try to win a ballgame.”