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July 31, 2013

What You Need to Know

The First-Place Pirates

by Daniel Rathman


The Tuesday Takeaway
The Cardinals came to Pittsburgh on Monday for a five-game series up by half a game in the National League Central, despite having lost three in a row. They fell behind, 4-0, in the bottom of the first inning and never recovered in a 9-2 defeat.

It was the Cardinals’ first four-game skid of the season, and it could not have come at a worse time. Still, Matt Holliday was not concerned. “We’re just going to try to come back and win the game tomorrow,” he told reporters, and his manager, Mike Matheny, contributed his own cliché, saying, “we focus it down to playing the games one at a time.”

On Tuesday, the Cardinals had two games to play one at a time. Two games to snap out of a rut during which the offense had scored two or fewer runs in four straight contests. Two games to rediscover the widely acclaimed clutch hitting that helped them to assemble a .339 team average with runners in scoring position, the best in the majors by a whopping 49 points.

Apart from not playing both games at once, they didn’t do any of those things. And the bad news didn’t end there.

Game one of the twin bill went 11 innings. Lance Lynn held the Pirates to one run over six innings of work, giving the scuffling offense plenty of time to battle back from a 1-0 deficit, which it did in the top of the third. From that point through the top of the ninth, neither team even advanced a runner to third base, as A.J. Burnett matched Lynn and the bullpens did their jobs.

Finally, in the bottom of the 11th, after the Cardinals failed to score with runners at the corners and one out in the top of the 10th, Kevin Siegrist buckled. The rookie, a 41st-round pick in 2008, had allowed only one run on four hits and six walks in his first 14 1/3 major-league innings. But after Pedro Alvarez flied out, Russell Martin and Gaby Sanchez both drew walks. And then, on a full-count fastball, Alex Presley brought Martin home with a ground ball up the middle that deflected off of Siegrist and went into center field, giving the Pirates a 2-1 victory.

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Sporer Report: The Jul... (07/31)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/30)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (08/01)
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Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (07/31)

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