In the Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities, he writes that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
New York Mets starter Shaun Marcum felt that as his team lost 7-3 to the hard-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at Citi Field.
Marcum started out with a flawless first inning as did Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates starter in this game.
The floodgates would open in the second inning. Garrett Jones started the inning with a double. Although Marcum, a righty, fares better against right-handed batters, manager Clint Hurdle opted to go with Jose Tabata to start in right field over Travis Snider due to his career numbers.
Tabata rewarded his manager’s decision with a bloop single to put runners on the corners. Pedro Alvarez continued the hitting parade, scoring Jones to put the opening run on the board. Still an out was recorded on the play as Tabata got a late start from first base and was tagged out at third.
Michael McKenry then stepped in and may have had the at-bat of the game. He hit various Marcum pitches foul, elevating his pitch count. Finally, McKenry saw one he liked for a double and Alvarez moved to third. John McDonald then came up and perhaps Marcum tried to pitch too conservatively as the bases were loaded, and the Pirates shortstop being hit by a pitch.
The Mets were still in a decent position as Rodriguez stepped up to the plate as a strikeout could limit the damage while a ground ball could end the entire threat. Marcum would get his ground ball, but the shot was hit so hard it took Marcum’s glove off and took a weird hop, but even still the double play was in effect. However, McDonald made an aggressive slide to break up the double play allowing another run to score.
Starling Marte would then come to the plate after Marcum assured manager Terry Collins and the team’s trainers that he was fine. Marte hit a weak ground ball, however Ruben Tejada double clutched the ball and did not have a good grip on it meaning all runners were safe and the Pirates had a 3-0 lead.
This lead to a second mound visit from Collins as Marcum still appeared to be a bit banged up. Marcum would stay in the game allowing another single, this one to Jordy Mercer. Robert Carson was warming up in the bullpen, however Andrew McCutchen has found plenty of success against left handed pitching meaning Marcum would have one more batter. Instead of waiting for Marcum to dig a deeper hole, McCutchen swung at the first pitch he saw just missing it and ended the threat.
Marcum appeared fine after the second inning, however the fifth inning came next and he would not survive this frame. Marte was hit by a pitch and Mercer singled. After a McCutchen pop out, Jones came out and hit a deep fly that initially resulted in a triple, plating two runs. Hurdle was not convinced and asked first-base umpire and crew chief Joe West for a video review. After a brief huddle, the umpires decided to review the play. Despite a tough week for umpires, West came out and made the decision that Jones had indeed homered, his fifth of the season to make the score 6-0. Following an Alvarez single, Marcum’s night was over.
Rodriguez had to escape some jams all game and his biggest test was in the fifth inning. The opening batter Anthony Recker hit his first home run of the season and second of his career, both against the Pirates. Then Juan Lagares doubled, however Rodriguez set the next three hitters down ending the threat.
Rodriguez would pitch six innings just allowing the one run and threw 92 pitches before giving way to Vin Mazzaro.
Mazzaro’s first inning lasted just six pitches. His second resulted in an opening single by Tejada. He just missed getting a double play the next batter, but David Wright grounded into an around-the-horn twin killing to end the inning.
The Pirates added a run in the ninth inning against lefty reliever Scott Rice. Gaby Sanchez drew a pinch-hit walk and that was followed by a Marte single. Mercer then walked to load the bases, and a run scored on a McCutchen ground-ball double play.
Jose Contreras came in and after getting a quick out gave up an upper-deck solo home run to pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin, his third of the season. Contreras then allowed two base runners, forcing a mound visit from pitching coach Ray Searage.
Even then, the next batter Lagares nearly reached base. Marte would catch the ball and nearly double up Ike Davis. With closer Jason Grilli warming up, Contreras then allowed Andrew Brown to hit a single to cut the lead to four runs. This forced Hurdle to go with his closer on the mound.
Grilli would get Tejada to fly out to McCutchen’s waiting glove to end the game. This ensured that Rodriguez would boost his record to 3-2 on the season, while Grilli picked up his league leading 14th save.
Saturday, Francisco Liriano makes his Pirates season debut and will face fellow lefty Jonathon Niese (2-3, 4.66).