Pirates' McDonald mows down Twins
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 9:46 p.m.
The ninth inning was virgin territory for Pirates right-hander James McDonald.
He had pitched eight innings before — once late in the 2010 season and twice last month. But in his first 108 outings in the majors, including 60 starts, McDonald had never tossed a complete game.
A few days ago, after McDonald went six innings in a loss at Cleveland, catcher Rod Barajas challenged him to demand more from himself. He remembered those words Thursday night, when he reached the seventh against the Minnesota Twins.
“I really wanted it,” McDonald said. “I finally believed in myself that I could do it. So, when I went out there (in the ninth), it was like it was the first inning all over again.”
Ryan Doumit's fly out sealed the Pirates' 9-1 victory at PNC Park. Not only was it McDonald's first career complete game, but it also was the first this season by a Pirates pitcher.
“It would've been more fun to get it earlier, but it was worth the wait,” McDonald said.
He threw 120 pitches, including 76 strikes. Doumit was the last batter manager Clint Hurdle was going to let him face.
“It's another step forward for him,” Hurdle said. “He's knocking things down this year.”
Andrew McCutchen singled, doubled and tripled, gathering three RBI. Garrett Jones celebrated his 31st birthday with two hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI. Barajas snapped an 0-for-13 skid by jacking a two-run homer.
Pedro Alvarez hit a 435-foot solo shot for his 13th homer. The ball bounced on the concourse behind the right-field bleachers, rolled down the slope toward the Allegheny River and to a fan seated on the water's edge.
“A great night,” said Jones, who gave the credit to McDonald. “From last year to this year, it's like night and day how far he's come and how he's trusting his stuff.”
McDonald did not have his best stuff last night. Barajas said he realized early in the game that McDonald's slider was “nonexistent,” meaning he had to rely on his curve and four-seam fastball.
“It's hard to be a two-pitch guy and have success at this level,” Barajas said. “He did that today. They adapted to the curve, so we went to the fastball. It worked.”
McDonald (6-3) gave up six hits, hit one batter and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 2.19. McDonald has not allowed more than seven hits in any of his 14 starts this season. That's stingy enough to have more than six wins, but he often has been the victim of poor run support.
The four runs the Pirates scored in the first two innings yesterday were more than they'd produced in seven of McDonald's starts this year. The Pirates teed off against Twins righty Liam Hendriks (0-4), who is winless with a 6.84 ERA in 10 career starts.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Crash victim dies day after ‘horrific’ wreck in Armstrong County
- Kovacevic: Panic over Pirates? In April?
- Undersized rookie Gibbons is blur on ice for Penguins
- Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Rice cornerback among 3 draft prospects to visit Steelers
- Man found shot twice, dead in Larimer
- Patience pays off as starting pitcher Volquez gets 1st win for Pirates
- Murrysville woman sues Giant Eagle over burns
- Work on tournament-class dek hockey rink in Bloomfield to begin
- Penguins’ Bylsma and Blue Jackets’ Richards know each other well
- Officials ID Elizabeth Township man as West End train victim