Saturday, June 14, 2014

Game of the Day (6/13/14)

Pirates 8, Marlins 6 (13). Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke opposed Miami's Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has pitched very well this year (and last, for that matter); Locke was also good last year, but was making only his third start of 2014 in this game.

The Pirates got to Eovaldi early, as Gregory Polanco led off the game with a single and Starling Marte homered. Andrew McCutchen and Ike Davis both singled, but Russell Martin hit into a double play and Pedro Alvarez flied out, keeping the lead to only two runs.

Locke was perfect in the first, and Eovaldi set the Pirates down in order in the second. Marcel Ozuna doubled with one out in the bottom of the inning; Jeff Baker grounded into an out at third, but singles by Adeiny Hechevarria and Jeff Mathis brought Baker around to score anyway. The teams traded runs in the third, Pittsburgh scoring when Marte singled, stole second, and came in on McCutchen's hit, while the Marlins got a Giancarlo Stanton homer that made it 3-2.

The Pirates put three runners on in the fourth, but not at the same time; Russell Martin was picked off before Jordy Mercer reached on an error and Michael Martinez was intentionally walked. Locke was spotless in the fourth, and his teammates significantly augmented his lead in the fifth. Polanco and Marte started the inning with singles, and a fly ball and wild pitch moved them to second and third. Davis then doubled both men home. Eovaldi was yanked for Dan Jennings one out later; Jennings walked Alvarez and gave up an RBI hit to Mercer before ending the inning.

Locke threw another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Polanco and Marte singled in the sixth and moved to second and third on a passed ball before being left on; Locke allowed a Stanton single in the bottom of the inning, but nothing else. Jennings was spotless in the seventh, while Locke permitted a lone Hechevarria bunt single. Chris Hatcher relieved in the top of the eighth and gave up a hit to Polanco before stranding him; Stanton doubled with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Locke left him on as well. Hatcher struck out the side in the top of the ninth.

With the Pirates up 6-2, they entrusted the bottom of the ninth to their bullpen. Justin Wilson walked Ozuna and Hechevarria before being relieved by Jason Grilli with one out. Grilli was much worse; he walked Mathis, gave up an RBI forceout to Ed Lucas, walked Rafael Furcal to reload the bases, and then served a two-run single to Reed Johnson. Stanton was intentionally walked to load the bases once more, and Mark Melancon relieved and walked Casey McGehee to force in the tying run. (Gotta love the base-loading intentional walk.) Ozuna struck out to end the inning, leaving the winning run at third and sending the game to extras.

Steve Cishek allowed a Clint Barmes single, and Travis Snider reached on an error before Polanco whiffed to end the top of the tenth. Jeanmar Gomez was perfect in both the tenth and eleventh, as was Miami's AJ Ramos in the eleventh and twelfth. Gomez allowed a McGehee double in the bottom of the twelfth, but kept him at second for the rest of the inning.

Mike Dunn relieved to start the thirteenth and gave up a leadoff single to Barmes. Gomez bunted the runner to second, bringing Polanco to the plate; the young Pirate worked a 2-2 count and then homered to give his team an 8-6 lead. Gomez retired Miami in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game.

The Pirate pitching was spectacular... for almost the entire game. Jeff Lock and Jeanmar Gomez combined for 12 innings of 8-hit, 1-walk, 11-K, 2-run baseball. In between the two shutdown performances, three members of their bullpen combined to give up a game-tying four spot that almost rendered their efforts moot.

And yet, the relief implosion was worthwhile, because it gave Gregory Polanco the chance to cap an astounding fourth career MLB game. The go-ahead homer he hit in the thirteenth was both his fifth hit of the day and the first longball of his career.

It's always nice when the big highlight of the game selects itself; it makes writing these recaps much easier. (Also, when an uber-prospect absolutely goes off in the fourth game of his career, it's pretty cool on its own merits, so there's that.)

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