James McDonald has an 8.71 ERA since the All-Star break

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James McDonald has been a big part of the Pirates’ surprising season, but he just hasn’t been the same pitcher since the All-Star break. He hit rock bottom last night against the Padres, giving up a season-high seven runs over just 4 1/3 innings as part of an eventual 9-8 loss.

McDonald actually cruised through the first four innings before coming unglued in the fifth. After issuing a one-out walk to Cameron Maybin, he gave up five straight hits to blow a 7-1 lead. The big blow was a game-tying three-run homer by Chase Headley.

McDonald has an ugly 8.71 ERA over six starts since the All-Star break after posting a 2.37 ERA in 17 starts during the first half of the season. The big problem? The home run ball. He has allowed eight home runs in 31 innings since the All-Star break after giving up just seven in 110 innings during the first half. He has also issued 21 walks after giving up just 31 for the entire first half.

Regression was probably inevitable for McDonald anyway, but it’s hitting him all at once and at the worst time for the Pirates. It will be interesting to see whether the Pirates continue to exercise patience or send McDonald to the bullpen while giving Kevin Correia another shot in the rotation.

Video: Austin Hedges gets a homer with an alley-oop assist from Mallex Smith

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The Padres’ Austin Hedges hit a fun home run in last night’s game against the Mariners.

He was facing M’s reliever Cory Gearrin with two outs in the sixth and drove one to deep right center. Padres outfielder Mallex Smith ranged back, leapt — though he didn’t have to — the ball doinked off his glove, and went over the fence for an alley-oop homer.

The best part was Hedges chuckling and, I think anyway, kinda tipping his cap to Smith. For his part, Smith sat on the ground and looked rather disgusted about it all. Which, you can’t really blame him:

It was the second time in three days such a homer was hit. On Sunday Dexter Fowler did the same courtesy to Noah Syndergaard.

Now, can someone tell me why these aren’t four-base errors? There’s probably a reason but, really, there’s no way these were dingers without the unintended help of the outfielder.