PITTSBURGH - Jonathan Sanchez didn't look like a guy ready to give the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen a needed night off after the St. Louis Cardinals touched him for two runs in the first inning on Tuesday.
Instead, Mother Nature intervened.
A massive thunderstorm hit at the end of the second inning with the Pirates leading 4-2, and the game was called after a delay of 1 hour, 24 minutes. No makeup date was immediately announced.
The deluge wiped out a promising start for Pittsburgh's offense but the Pirates could certainly use the break after the bullpen did yeoman's work in relief of struggling starter James McDonald on Monday night.
The right-hander gave up eight runs - three earned - in a 10-6 loss but insisted he's not injured.
The struggling McDonald understands his velocity is down but doesn't believe it is injury-related. His fastball - which can top out at 94 mph - rarely ticked about 90 mph against the Cardinals. He isn't panicking, pointing to similar issues early in the 2012 season.
"It was just one of those times you don't feel too well," McDonald said on Tuesday. "It's just one of those times where your body feels beat up."
McDonald fell to 1-2 as his ERA rose to 5.27. While there may be some mechanical issues at work he believes he's also just trying to get into the rhythm of the season. The ball doesn't feel quite right leaving his hand but he thinks he can still get hitters out.
"You don't have your good stuff every single time," he said. "You have to battle through it."
Manager Clint Hurdle allowed McDonald's problems are "perplexing" but he doesn't plan on pulling McDonald from his next scheduled start on Saturday against Atlanta.
"At this time, I don't have any information to lead me in that direction," Hurdle said.