(Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug; opening image credit gamblerspalace)
1. 2B Neil Walker hits a soft grounder to the only and only place on the field that won’t score the speedy Starling Marte from 3B. Marte- either not paying attention, or being told to run on contact- proceeds to quickly get picked off of 3B. It was poor situational hitting, and an unforgiveable baserunning gaffe.
Runners now at 1st and 2nd. One out.
2. In what would be an ultimately fortuitous gaffe for the Cardinals, fireballer Carlos Martinez launches a passed ball while facing MVP Andrew McCutchen, moving the runners up to 2nd and 3rd. Manager Mike Matheny quickly makes the obvious decision to intentionally walk the one and only threat Pittsburgh currently has in the lineup. McCutchen trots to first.
Bases loaded, one out. Still a great opportunity to break the game open, or tie at worst.
3. Cleanup hitter Pedro Alvarez, in what could easily be termed “Pedroing” at this point, watches a 2-strike pitch for a called strike 3, leaving the bases loaded in the 8th inning of a 1-run game. The former #2 overall pick is now hitting .170, and is averaging a strikeout a game. The Pirates still use Alvarez as their cleanup hitter most nights, as they do not have any better options.
Bases loaded, two outs.
4. Any fans happy that Alvarez at least didn’t ground into a double play felt their hearts sink when they saw veteran backstop Chris Stewart slowly approach the dish. An inexplicable offseason trade target by GM Neal Huntington, Stewart had only a .566 OPS in 2013- among the worst in all of baseball- yet was considered a quality acquisition by Huntington and Manager Clint Hurdle, so much so that they demoted C Tony Sanchez– hitting .333 with a 108 OPS+ at the time, mind you- just to have Stewart and his apparent veteranosity and defensive savvy (which nevertheless failed to save him from 2 fielding errors in his 1st appearance of the season) on the team.
Stewart quickly dropped behind in the count, then checkswinged weakly at a pitch out of the zone for strike 3.
Inning over. 0 runs scored after beginning with 1st and 3rd, and nobody out.
Counting the following 9th inning, the final 5 Pirates batters struck out. Final score, St. Louis 1, Pittsburgh 0. The Pirates wasted another great start from Cole, and dropped 6 games below .500, and April isn’t even over yet. Good thing GM Neal Huntington spent the offseason acquiring nobody of significance. And thank goodness Owner Bob Nutting can sit back and count his millions of dollars of profit, while the Pirates ignored their promise to fans by trying to defend their 2013 playoff appearance with one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball. Thanks for reading?