You can't predict baseball. Monday night we saw the Pirates rock Detroit in an 11-6 win, a certified blowout for the majority of the game. Justin Verlander made it just one inning. The shortest outing of his career. He left after the 1st with right-shoulder soreness...or what I like to call, "I just gave up 5 runs in the first to a AAA lineup soreness." The Tigers today said that an MRI showed Verlander was fine, no trip to the DL, further proving my prognosis. A still beat up, depleted, AAA, Pirate lineup put up 5 runs off of Justin Verlander in the first inning. He's not the pitcher he used to be and hasn't all year, but if you would have told me that Monday's game was going to be a blowout, I would have bet the farm the Pirates would have been on the losing end of it.
The bats were alive, from the first inning to the very end. Harrison, Marte, and Snider all had multi-hit games. Harrison had hit safely in last 14 of 15 games coming out of last night, also Harrison's 33 multi-hit game of the year. Travis Snider hit his 8th and 9th home runs of the year. The first coming in the 2nd inning, a two-run shot for Lunchbox. That gave the Pirates an 8-1 lead at that point.
After the Tigers fought back and put up 3 runs in the 6th the Pirates answered. Back to back home runs from Martin and Ike Davis made it 10-4 in favor of the Pirates. The first home runs for the two of them in over a month. Travis Snider hit his second bomb of the game in 8th with the rain coming down. #soaked
Martin, Davis, Marte, Snider and Nix all had RBIs in the game. Martin tallied 2, while Marte drove in 3 and Snider topped that with 4.
Jeff Locke was unimpressive on the mound, but it didn't matter with the way the Pirates were swinging it. Locke went 5 innings, giving up four runs (all earned) on eight hits, walking four while striking out one. He earned the win and moved to 4-3 on the year. Hughes came on to work both the 6th and 7th. Two innings of scoreless ball for him, working himself in and out of jams. Sadler got two outs while allowing the Tigers to plate two runs. Then, it was elementary for Watson this time for only one out. Justin Wilson came on to close it out, both worked scoreless innings.
This was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Pirates. If they wanted to stand a chance they were going to have to get to the starters early in this series. They did just that with Verlander. The offense didn't shut down after the first as it had in previous games, this allowed the Pirates to continue to build on their lead. Especially as the Tigers continuously tried to answer back. Against a good team like the Tigers no lead is good enough. You have to keep trying to gain ground and hold them off. Exactly as the Pirates did.
Travis Snider was your BUCCO of the Game, as voted by the Twittersphere. He was 3-5 on the night with 4 RBIs and a pair of home runs!
Andrew McCutchen went on the 15-day DL. It's likely that he isn't going to spend the maximum 15 days on it with the way those around the team have reported on his status. He is said to be recovering exceptionally. You see him moving around and active in BP and the dugout during games, so he can't be far off. Neil Walker remains in limbo, still no DL stint for him. Personally, I would have liked to see him make a DL trip days ago to allow the Pirates to add to the roster but that didn't happen. He should be back any day now.
Gerrit Cole will make another rehab start for AAA Indy on Saturday. Coming off a great start there this should be his last rehab outing. The Pirates probably want to get him up to 70 pitches or more before bringing him back up. Saturday he should be able to go at least 70 and then we should see him back with the team.
Game 2: Pirates 4, Tigers 2
64th win of the year for the Battlin' Bucs, owners of the best home record in baseball following the game at 39-24. Would you believe it if I told you that the Pirates are now 13-5 without Andrew McCutchen in the lineup...Two huge wins for the Pirates. In a couple of games that looked to be a tough test, the Pirates were up for the challenge. Coming off of an ugly series with San Diego, the Bucs bounced back well. I'll be the first to say I wasn't expecting the Pirates to take both games from the Tigers at home...but I sure am happy that they did. With the Cardinals struggling these games became even more important. The Pirates move to 64-55 on the year, they sit in 2nd place in the NL Central, a game and a half in front of the Cardinals. The Bucs also hold on to the first spot in the NL Wild Card, which would mean a Wild Card Game at PNC.
The start of a tough stretch of upcoming opponents didn't rattle the Bucs. A good headstart on a daunting rest of the way, every spot in the lineup has contributed. With Cutch out, Walker still sidelined and Gerrit Cole continuing to make his way back, the Pirates have relied on a different guy to step up each night. That's not to mention that Pedro has been a wash and probably will continue that way the rest of the year. The way that the Pirates won these two games is the way they are going to have to. It may seem obvious but its not. It starts with the pitching. You don't need a complete game shutout, look at Locke last night. He fit the mold of what the Pirates need every time out. Nothing great, just don't get rocked. Eddie was strong in his start tonight...good starting pitching. Then, the responsibility falls on the hitters. You don't need to put up 11 like in game one but that certainly helps. The teams the Pirates play the rest of the way have solid rotations but shaky pens. Get to the pen early, chase the starter. The Pirates did that. Score often, grab a run every inning or two. The Pirates did that. Finally, close it out the right way. The bullpen has to hold. Throw strikes, get ground balls, raise the damn Jolly Roger. They did just that.
The Pirates took game two from the Tigers behind a strong start from Edinson Volquez. He becomes the first 10-game winner for the Bucs this year with the win tonight. He went 6 innings, giving up just two runs both of which were earned on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Eddie goes to 10-7 on the year and his ERA is now down to 3.67. He retired 9 batters in just 3 pitches or less. Eddie had to go to work, he battled until he left after the 6th.
Jordy Mercer was in the 3 spot tonight for the Pirates, the 3 spot. I never thought I would see the day. He didn't go hitless so it could have been worse. The Tigers plated a run in the first off of Volquez who started a bit slow. In the 2nd the Pirates tied it up after a Gaby Sanchez base knock down the 3B line drove in Martin. Then, a Travis Snider double scored Sanchez to give the Pirates the lead. The Bucs added another in the 3rd to make it 3-1 after Jordy Mercer drove in Harrison. Detroit answered in the 4th with another run, cutting the Pirates lead to one following an Alex Avila home run. The Pirates got their last run in the 6th. Ike Davis single that was able to drive in Starling Marte.
The first seven spots in the Pirates lineup tonight had at least one base hit. Snider was the lone Pirate with a multi-hit game. Lunchbox Hero. Mercer, Sanchez, Davis and Snider all had RBIs. The "Blackhole Platoon" combined for 2-4 with 2 rbis tonight.
Justin Wilson came on to pitch the 7th. His command looked great, he hasn't allowed a walk since that inning from hell against the Padres (4 games ago). Watson came on to pitch the 8th, having to face Cabrera once again. He took the Tigers to school, elementary. Melancon came on and earned his 22 save of the year. Raise it!
Pedro Alvarez got another chance to pinch-hit in tonight's game. He flew out. The pinch-hitting spot he has been in is a tough one. It's hard to jump off the bench and step in there and get a knock. The way they've been using him is the right way. Get him in when you can, give him a chance and some at bats. To me Hurdle is saying, Pedro go get a hit in a PH spot and then I'm gonna start ya at first base the next day. I would expect we will see Alvarez at first by this weekend against the Nats. It's good to see the fans continue to pick Pedro up and support him. More support than he got when he was in the lineup. Says something about the Yinzers...
The Pirates put 15 runs in two games against the Tigers. Compiling 23 hits. 4 Bucco Blasts. Two good starts on the mound. An air tight bullpen. All were enough to take both of these games at home from the Tigers.
It's off to Detroit to complete the home-and-home series for the Bucs and Tigers. The Pirates will face a fresh new face tomorrow in Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer. Farmer will make his major league debut, after just two starts in AA. No appearances higher than that. He is an excellent arm, highly touted and was a stud at Georgia Tech. Don't know what to expect in his debut, hopefully the moment gets to him and the Pirates can capitalize. It'll be Scherzer after that. Regardless of this lineup's magic or what kind of start we get out of Liriano, that's gonna be a tough one. Look for Vance Worley to stay on the horse in his start tomorrow
First pitch at 7:08 tomorrow. Vance Worley (5-1, 2.30) against Buck Farmer (0-0, 0.00).