Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Game 21: Pirates 7 Cardinals 4

Generally, giving up four runs in the first inning and getting a start from anyone that only involves one strikeout is a pretty solid recipe for disaster for our Pittsburgh Pirates. Strangely, it wasn't tonight. After Snell gave up his runs in the first, he managed to bear down and shut the Cards down over the next five, even after it became clear to everyone that he didn't have anything resembling his best stuff tonight. The offense, meanwhile, chipped away against Wellemeyer after being no-hit through three innings. Once the offense saw him a second time, everyone adjusted and started stringing hits together, scoring two runs in the fourth and two more on a big homer from Bay in the fifth. Even more surprisingly, Jose Bautista, Brian Bixler, and Doug Mientkiewicz strung three hits together with two outs in the eighth, scoring three runs and one hilarious tantrum at second (Dougie, after being thrown out at second stupidly trying to stretch his two-run single into a double), giving the Bucs an 8-4 lead and setting up an easy save for Matt Capps.

Honestly though, most impressive tonight was Snell. He certainly didn't look great, but getting Pujols to pop out to LaRoche with two out and two out in a tie game in the sixth was one of the biggest plays of the game. It's easy to pitch well when your fastball is hopping and your slider is biting, but it's much harder to do it without your best stuff. Snell managed to do that tonight against a team that usually kills him. Of course, I say that because I like Snell more than Bautista and Bixler, who also came up huge, and I hate to harp on every single time Bay gets a clutch hit because I don't even want to go down that road again. So really, it was a solid effort by everyone tonight. I feel like it was one of the more complete wins this year, mostly because we didn't do anything paralyzingly stupid and we actually took advantage when the Cards did (see: Adam Kennedy hits a single, La Genius pinch-hitting with a pitcher to bunt him over, only to be terribly foiled when Kennedy got caught stealing and Wainwright struck out ... God that was awesome). It's hard to believe this is the same team that lost 6 straight games by a score of 11 trillion to 3, but if they were consistent they wouldn't be the Pirates.