Clutch Hitting From McCutchen, Jones, and Walker Leads Pirates to Win

Garrett Jones - Photo by Mark Olson

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up their fourth win of the year tonight, thanks to some clutch two-out hitting from the middle of their lineup, and eight strong innings from the bullpen.

Jeff Karstens left the game in the second inning with right shoulder inflammation after giving up two runs in the first. Karstens came up to bat in the top of the second inning, but was replaced with Jared Hughes to start the bottom half of the frame. The Pirates will evaluate Karstens at the end of the road trip, and will provide an update on Thursday after the team doctors take a look at the right-hander.

Hughes gave up a run in the second inning. Aaron Hill drew a one out walk, stole second base, then scored on a two-out double by Willie Bloomquist. Hughes then struck out Gerardo Parra to end the inning. After retiring the side in order in the third, Hughes ran in to trouble in the fourth. Ryan Roberts and Lyle Overbay led off the inning with back to back singles. Hughes got Aaron Hill to ground in to a double play, bringing up a favorable situation with pitcher Ian Kennedy at the plate with two outs. However, Hughes walked Kennedy, which brought on Tony Watson to pitch with runners at first and third. Watson escaped the inning by striking out Bloomquist.

The middle of the Pirates’ order tonight was very productive. Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Garrett Jones combined to go 10-for-14. In the first inning, they got the Pirates on the board with three straight two-out singles. The third one, an RBI single by Jones, scored McCutchen from second to put the Pirates up 1-0.

The third inning saw McCutchen come to the plate with two outs, similar to the first inning. Once again, McCutchen got things started with a single. After McCutchen moved to second on a balk, Neil Walker brought him home with an RBI single, his second of the game. Garrett Jones brought Walker in from first with an opposite field double, tying the game at 3-3.

Jones came through again in the sixth inning, leading off the frame with a home run right in to the pool at Chase Field. That put the Pirates up 4-3, which was a lead they held until the bottom of the eighth inning when Jason Grilli gave up a one-out, solo-homer to John McDonald, tying the game at 4.

The Pirates bounced back in the top of the ninth inning, again coming through with some two-out hitting. Alex Presley reached on a two-out infield single. Casey McGehee came on to hit for Jason Grilli, and laced a single to center field, moving Presley to third. That’s when McCutchen came to the plate, poking a 1-2 pitch in to shallow left field to bring in Presley.

Juan Cruz came on for the save, retiring the side in order to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 victory. The Pirates went with Cruz for the save, as Joel Hanrahan was day-to-day with hamstring tightness, which he felt on his final pitch in San Francisco.

Game Notes

  • Relief: Jared Hughes: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Tony Watson: 2.1 IP, 2 K; Evan Meek: 1.0 IP; Jason Grilli: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 K.
  • Four of the five runs scored by the Pirates came with two outs. Nine of their 13 hits came with two outs.
  • Key Hitters: Andrew McCutchen: 4-for-5, RBI; Neil Walker: 3-for-5, RBI; Garrett Jones: 3-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI.
  • Jones missed out on a fourth hit after dropping a single in to shallow right field with runners on first and second in the eighth. Neil Walker was in an impossible position, trying to avoid getting doubled up at first if the ball was caught, which didn’t leave him enough time to make it to second to avoid the force out.
  • Pedro Alvarez had a hard hit ball to the left-center gap, which was caught on the run by Chris Young, who make a great play to get the ball. Young then collided with the outfield wall at the end of the play and was removed from the game.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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When Alvarez actually making contact with a ball pops up in the game notes, you know the bar is set pretty low


That is a miserable group of production. I did however see a spark of confidence last night from Pedro and Barajas – both showed nice pitch recognition for once, and absolutely ripped the ball several times just good defense. Barmes at this point has me wishing for Ronny Cedeno, I have been unimpressed with his defense and even with an occassional bunting episode, Ronny hit .230-.260 with at times spectacular defense… 
That’s really meaningless though as compared to what a confident and productive Pedro would mean to the club. Fingers crossed that he’ll work out of it, I’ve always been a supporter and I wish him success!

John Lease

Hard hit ball?  Talk about lowering expectations.  6-7-8 batters were all 0 fers.  Barajas, Alvarez and Barmes are all under .100!  That’s hard to do.

Randy Linville

Hopefully Kristy is doing okay. Saw on twitter she was in a car accident.

Opposite field loud out or not, Pedro still looks awful.

Is Hanrahan on his way to SF? Or did he really tweak his hammie?

Kristy Robinson

Thanks, Randy. I’m okay. Just on a lot of meds. Concussion, neck and back strain, swollen jaw from hitting the steering wheel. Will be back covering the team today. 

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