Hoist the colours! The Pittsburgh Pirates have come out victorious tonight.
After sweeping the Cardinals, the Pirates found themselves dropping six of the last eight, and four in a row before tonight’s contest. It has been well documented the struggles that they’ve had with their bullpen and finding ways to score runs. Well, tonight Pittsburgh found a way to solve all of those issues.
Jon Niese took the start today and was extremely effective doing exactly what he was brought in to do. Three was Niese’s lucky number tonight as he lasted seven innings while allowing three hits and three walks while also striking out three. As mentioned, Niese was brought in via trade because of his ground ball inducing style, and tonight he created many groundouts. He allowed just three flyouts while creating a total of 13 groundouts while collecting the win. There were only a few times the Brewers came knocking on the door, but the Pirates were able to help Niese out of the jam to erase any damage that was done.
When you have a groundball pitcher on the mound doing well, its likely there is solid defense behind him. There was no exception tonight. Jordy Mercer‘s glove has looked tremendous this year and he showed it off multiple times tonight. Along with Mercer, David Freese, Gregory Polanco, and John Jaso, each had some really nice defensive plays. I think it’s safe to say that the John Jaso experiment at first is going exponentially better than the Pedro Alvarez experiment went. Tonight, Jaso had a nice pick from a ball thrown by Mercer and he also managed a diving grab to prevent a base hit.
The bigger story certainly comes from the offense. The Pirates were doing what they’ve been doing all year, which is getting on base. In tonights matchup, they collected eight hits and six walks to total 14 baserunners. What they did differently tonight was get these baserunners past home plate. Pittsburgh mustered up five RBI’s tonight with the help of Gregory Polanco, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, and Andrew McCutchen‘s 401 foot home run. It was the first homer of the season for McCutchen, though he has been getting very good contact all year.
Most of the scoring came in the 4th. It started with a Starling Marte double that was followed up by a single from Francisco Cervelli. Polanco wound up scoring Marte from third with a ground out, and then J Hay would triple in Cervelli. The scoring ceased with a Mercer sacrifice fly.
Tony Watson entered the game in the 8th and looked shaky at best. He was able to finish to inning without allowing a run, but did walk two batters. Mark Melancon got some work in during a non save situation as it’s been five days since he last pitch. He definitely showed no signs of rust. Melancon managed to strike out the side to end the game.
One takeaway from this game was that Starling Marte was hit on the hand during the 2nd inning. He did stay in the game and actually stole a base immediately after. Though he played throughout the game and was very productive, he was clenching it most of the night. It doesn’t look too serious, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take tomorrow’s contest off.
The Pirates will host the Brewers tomorrow for the rubber match at 1:35 in PNC Park. The scheduled starters will be Juan Nicosia and Zach Davies.