I listened to almost all of this one on the radio (well, actually on my phone) between South Carolina and Chapel Hill, which was kind of an unnerving experience. When Neil Walker homered in the first inning, I thought to myself, “I hope McDonald’s on today, because I bet we don’t get much more than this off of Halladay.” In the fourth inning, it became abundantly clear that McDonald wasn’t on, but he escaped the jam. When the fifth inning started, I had the sense it was going to be the sort of inning that Hurdle left McDonald out there at least a batter too long to try and get a win; I guess it’s debatable exactly when it was obvious that McDonald was gassed, but I felt pretty certain that it was after he walked Halladay on five pitches and I was positive about it after Victorino walked on four. I definitely did not need Placido Polanco walked on four more pitches to know that McDonald needed pulled.
At the very least, though, that set up the most entertaining radio at-bat of the year, when Ryan Howard fouled off about a million pitches in a row and Steve Blass kept making weird, guttural noises while Greg Brown just yelled, “FOULED BACK!” over and over again. That was followed by the letdown of Chris Resop hitting Carlos Ruiz with a pitch after finally getting Howard to fly out within the confines of the park (barely). Things never really got better from there; giving Roy Halladay the lead back after he was kind enough to spot you some early runs is one of those things in baseball that often ends predictably.
So the Pirates can’t close a series out on Sunday afternoon. That certainly doesn’t mean this weekend was a waste. With the draft, the Diamondbacks, and the Indians coming up, the Pirates have a big week ahead of them and so it’s probably not best to dwell on this loss.