Yovani Gallardo has the Pirates number. On the mound. At the plate. He’s a pain in the rear. Gallardo added a win, two hits, two runs and an RBI to his already impressive resume against the Pirates.
The Pirates wasted an early chance against Gallardo. He gave up a single to Neil Walker and then walked Pedro Alvarez to commence the top of the second. But Lyle Overbay and Chris Snyder were retired without either runner advancing. Ronny Cedeno was walked and James McDonald whiffed.
Runs were scored and tempers flared in the bottom of the third. Jonathan Lucroy led off with a homer. Gallardo singled and Rickie Weeks doubled to put two on with no one out. Carlos Gomez whiffed and Ryan Braun grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Gallardo but resulted in Weeks getting into a run down. He was retired when Cedeno tagged him. He apparently tagged him harder than Weeks felt necessary. They exchanged words. The benches and bullpens emptied. But beyond some dancing around, no fighting erupted. No one was kicked out of the game. Once order was restored, Prince Fielder was walked and Casey McGehee grounded out to end the inning.
The Pirates lone offensive burst took place in the fourth. Overbay singled with one out and with two outs Cedeno – perhaps with his fight or flight adrenaline still coursing through his arteries – hit one over the fence in center. That tied the score.
Temporarily. In the home half of the fourth, Corey Hart doubled to lead off the inning. Yuniesky Betancourt grounded to third, freezing Hart at second for the first out. Lucroy was walked to bring up Gallardo with the hopes of an inning ending double play. But Gallardo singled to break the tie. Suitably rattled, McDonald walked weeks. He struck out Carlos Gomez with men on base for the second time. But with two outs, Ryan Braun singled bringing home two and making it 5-2.
The Pirates never threatened again. They sent just twelve men to the plate in the final four innings as Marco Estrada and John Axford tossed perfect relief.
McDonald was saddled with the loss. His last inning was the fourth and he was charged with all five runs. He struck out seven but gave up six hits and three walks. Gallardo gave up five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five. He gave up both runs on Cedeno’s dinger.
The Pirates bullpen was unscathed. Jose Ascanio – on the roster with Michael Crotta on the DL – struck two in a scoreless fifth. Daniel Moskos pitched the sixth and Chris Resop pitched the last two innings.
Overbay had two hits.
Pirate pitchers recorded eleven whiffs.
The offense was not very offensive except to Pirates fans.
Bucs struck out ten times.
Gallardo came into the game hitting .227 with two homers and five RBI against Pittsburgh. He is now 7-2 in 11 career starts (plus one relief outing) against the Pirates.
Ryan Braun hit .368 against Pittsburgh last year. After three games in 2011, he is only 2-11. That of course means he’ll hit four homers on Saturday. I was in Wisconsin this week and was offered the chance to hang around Friday in order to attend the game on Saturday. Just couldn’t justify it despite being highly tempted.
Eleven strikeouts is the most the Pirates have recorded in a regulation game in 2011. They struck out 15 in a 14 inning game against Colorado on 4/8/11 and whiffed eleven Giants in ten innings on 4/26/11.
McDonald has struck out 15 in his last two starts.