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Friday, December 9, 2022

Game 68 Recap: Bucs Sweep Astros

Jones bopped a three run tater in the first.

The Pirates took advantage of limited scoring opportunities as Garrett Jones three run homer helped propel the Pirates to a series sweep in Houston. The win puts the Pirates two games over .500.

Jones’ dinger came in the first on a two strike, two out pitch from rookie Jordan Lyles. It scored Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen.

Houston wiggled back to tie the game. In the fourth Brett Wallace walked and Matt Downs doubled to start the inning against James McDonald. A ground ball out from Angel Sanchez scored one run and Carlos Corporan’s sac fly made it 3-2.

Pesky Michael Bourn walked to lead off the fifth. He scored on a double from Hunter Pence that tied the game.

Pittsburgh forged ahead in the sixth with help from Bourn. McCutchen and Neil Walker singled with one out. Bourn mishandled a line drive from Jones, allowing McCutchen to score. Josh Harrison doubled, pushing Walker across and giving the Bucs a 5-3 lead. Jones was thrown out at the plate on the play.

Tony Watson relieved McDonald with two outs in the sixth and a runner on second. He tossed two scoreless innings and Tim Wood got the final out of the eighth. He handed it off to Jose Veras (with Joel Hanrahan unavailable after having recorded three straight saves). Jason Bourgeois led off with a single. He stole second and moved to third on a ground ball out from Bourn. Jeff Keppinger singled him in, making it 4-3. Keppinger moved to second on a grounder from Pence. That brought up Carlos Lee and his grounder to Brandon Wood at third was originally misplayed. But Wood ran it down and gunned out Lee at first by a hair. Game over.

McDonald gave up three runs on seven hits in 5-2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four. Lyles was tagged with the loss. He also pitched 5-2/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs (five overall) on four hits. He walked one and struck out eight.

The Good
Two games over .500!

I’ll take that from McDonald.

The Bad
Bucs whiffed eleven times and got just seven hits.

The Rest
Bucs were last two games over .500 on July 2, 1999. Two days later – July 4, 1999 – was the day the music died in Pittsburgh. Jason Kendall’s ankle practically exploded as he stepped awkwardly on first base. He missed the rest of that season. Other than Andy Van Slyke breaking his collar bone on June 14, 1993, I count this as the worst ‘I remember where I was when I heard the news’ Pirate injury of the last 20 years.

MLB overturned McCutchen’s double against the Mets over the weekend, ending his consecutive game hitting streak ex post facto.

I caught the tail end of this game on SiriusXM radio on my drive home. Milo Hamilton is still the Astros play-by-play announcer. His book
Making Airwaves is an interesting read. He has a pretty high opinion of himself. In describing his brief time with the Cubs, he suggests that the Cubs fans preferred him over Harry Caray. Um, right.

This was the first career decision for each pitcher against this particular opponent.

Jones hadn’t homered since 5/2/11.

Veras hadn’t recorded a save since 9/29/07.

McDonald’s fifth win on the year matches his career best.

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