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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.
After 14 innings and five hours and 11 minutes, the Pittsburgh Pirates delivered a walk-off win in the bottom of the 14th inning to win, 4-3, at PNC Park during the early hours of Saturday.
Josh Rodriguez drew a walk off of Franklin Morales and Jose Tabata hit a double off the Roberto Clemente wall to score the winning run.
Since the run came after midnight, the win came on the 10th birthday of PNC Park.
Jose Tabata told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I’m looking for one pitch. I’m thinking if he throws a fastball, I’ll [take] a good swing. When he threw the pitch, I swung the bat. I stayed with my approach, middle-away, and [you] see what happened.”
The Colorado Rockies took advantage of right-hander Ross Ohlendorf’s early struggles. After allowing a leadoff walk to Dexter Fowler and a single by Jonathan Herrera, Jason Giambi launched a three-home run into the right field seats. The Rockies quickly took a 3-0 lead.
That was the only run the Rockies would score through the 14 inning game.
Ohlendorf was pulled after 2.2 innings with right shoulder discomfort.
The Pirates bullpen, which consisted of Jeff Karstens, Mike Crotta, Jose Veras, Joel Hanrahan, Chris Resop and Garrett Olson, pitched 11.1 innings allowing six hits, no runs, seven walks and 12 strikeouts.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 11.1 scoreless innings by the Bucs bullpen was the longest by the club in a game since 1900.
Manager Clint Hurdle told Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “My goodness, Scoreless? That’s a good hitting team over there. Our guys stepped it up. Every single one of them. There will be a couple who won’t be able to go [Saturday].”
The Pirates tacked on a run each of the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings.
After back-to-back walks to Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen by Jorge De La Rosa, Matt Diaz grounded to short in a 10 pitch at-bat, to score Walker and cut the lead, 3-1.
Jose Tabata hit his first home run of the season, as well as the first home run hit by a Bucco at PNC Park this year in the 5th inning.
Matt Belise walked both Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez in the 6th, and Jason Jaramillo hit a RBI single to right field to tie the game at 3.
The Pirates showed their patience at the plate on Friday, after walking for a total of eight times.
The Rockies had plenty of chances during the late innings to score the go-ahead run. After Chris Resop allowed a lead-off double to Herrera, Carlos Gonzalez lined to shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki was intentionally walked and Jose Morales struck out for the second out. Seth Smith drew a walk to load the bases. Ty Wigginton hit a liner to third base but Pedro Alvarez made a spectacular play, diving for the ball and then threw from one knee to first baseman Lyle Overbay to end the inning.
The Pirates were out of bench players and only right-hander Evan Meek was left in the Pirates bullpen. It was reported that he was not available to pitch and even tried to convince the staff to let him warm up, if needed.
During the bottom of the 14th, and Josh Rodriguez on first base with two outs, Jose Tabata stepped up to the plate. Rockies Manager Jim Tracy received a lot of critism for not walking Tabata to get to Garrett Olson, who was on deck.
Although, it didn’t appear that way. Manager Clint Hurdle sent Andrew McCutchen to the on deck circle in hopes Tracy didn’t realize the batting order (There was a double switch in the 10th inning, so the pitcher was batting in the two hole).
It proved out to be the game winning play, as Jose Tabata hit a double off of the Roberto Clemente wall to score Josh Rodriguez and win in the 14th inning.
Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette asked Hurdle if it was a decoy to make Tracy think McCutchen was up next, “No, come on, why would we do that,” Hurdle said with a sly chuckle.
What was Manager Jim Tracy’s reasoning? “To walk him into scoring position … I know they have somebody over there that maybe takes a swing and not have to hit the ball very far at all to end up winning the game that way also,” he said.
An incredible ending for the Pirates on their first win at home this season.
Jeff Karstens, who pitched 3.1 innings after taking over after Ohlendorf was injured, told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I don’t even think words can describe what we did tonight. Just guy after guy came out; the situation didn’t matter, they just kept pitching. We were able to get out of it.”
Hurdle added, “My goodness. That’s a good hitting team over there. Our guys stepped it up tonight, every single one.”