Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Pirates pound Padres
In a game that got out of hand two-thirds if the way in, the Pirates ensured that they would take the series against the Padres
After splitting a four game series with the New York Mets and then dropping the first game of a three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Padres needed a win on Tuesday to have a chance at taking the second series of the home stand. They didn’t get it, as the game went sideways in the seventh inning and the Pirates routed the Padres 8-1.
The win put the National League Central division leading Pirates a full two games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals while the Padres fell back into the cellar in the National League West, 17 1/2 games in back of the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tyson Ross has been fantastic as of late, but on Tuesday he had trouble with his control. “The fastball,” Ross said when asked if it was a specific pitch he was having trouble locating. “I wasn’t able to execute it the way I usually do and they’re a good hitting team.”
Ross gave up two runs in the first inning, on a solo home run by Neil Walker and then a throwing error by Jedd Gyorko on a routine ground ball allowed another run to score when Russell Martin doubled in that runner. The Pirates were up 2-0 before the Padres even got to bat.
The Pirates added a run in the third inning, when Walker got hit by a pitch, and then Pedro Alvarez tripled. It was the first of three triples the Pirates would hit in the game.
Gyorko made up for his error in the bottom of the fourth inning by tagging a fastball from Pirates starter A.J. Burnett over the left field wall, and the 3-1 score held the game close enough to give the Padres hope. But in the seventh inning, all hope was lost.
After a single and a walk and then a sacrifice bunt to put Pirates on second and third with one out, Dale Thayer replaced Ross. Walker then hit a ground ball to Gyorko, who threw out the runner coming home, but Andrew McCutcheon tripled home two runs and the Pirates took a 5-1 lead.
Colt Hynes replaced Thayer, walked back-to-back batters to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison unloaded them with another triple. Pittsburgh took a commanding 8-1 lead and that was that.
While Tyson Ross got into trouble early, he did straighten out and get into the seventh inning, something that manager Buddy Black liked to see. “He hung in there through seven innings,” Black said postgame. “Burnett outpitched him, but Tyson hung in there and kept us in the game.”
“The expectation level of Tyson may be a little bit unfair early on here. Not his best command of the fastball, not his best slider, but he ended up getting us into the seventh inning,” Black continued. “From there it sort of unraveled, but I like the way he competed.”
For Gyorko, it was his 14th home run on the season, and has been showing good power. “We’ve seen that out of Jedd,” Buddy acknowledged. “When he connects, there’s some slugging percentage in there, whether it’s a double or a homer. That was good to see.”
The rest of the team will need to wake up offensively if the Padres are going to compete the rest of the season, even simply begin playing the role of spoiler to teams that have a shot at making the playoffs.
On the injury front, Buddy is encouraged by Kyle Blanks and sees a rehab stint in the minors coming soon. Kyle is taking batting practice, throwing, and running, and reports that the foot feels good. For Carlos Quentin, the news doesn’t sound so promising. Carlos is on his third injection on the knee and in the midst of another 7-10 days waiting period until a determination will be made of where to go from there. Cameron Maybin is completely shut down, and likely won’t get an opportunity to get back into a rehab position in AAA, as their regular season is over in very early September.
On Wednesday, the Padres and Pirates will play the third and final game of the series. First pitch is slated for 3:40 PM PDST, and features Gerrit Cole (6-5, 3.88) for Pittsburgh going up against Padres starter Ian Kennedy (1-1, 4.42 for San Diego). Catch the game on radio 1090 AM or see it televised by Fox Sports San Diego. Or take an early day from work and come out to Petco Park, there will be plenty of seats for this one.
Below, manager Buddy Black talks about the performance of Tyson Ross on Tuesday. It’s heavily edited, but this is a normal post-game presser if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
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