Pitching, pitching, pitching. That was the key to the Pirates sweeping a doubleheader Tuesday over the Mets by the score of 3-1 to each game.
Heading into the series, it pitching probables looked like a massive mismatch of games but they play the games for a reason. First, Jon Niese started against his former team and mowed them down, blanking the Mets for 7.0 innings on just four hits with two strikeouts. It was an outing Niese needed and one that lowered his ERA below four. The bats were able to scratch out three runs off Steven Matz and the Pirates took game one of the DH.
Next up on the stage was Juan Nicasio against Jacob deGrom. Your obvious mismatch, right? Wrong. Nicasio struck out seven Mets and only allowed one run in 5.0 innings of work while the Pirates scored three runs off of deGrom to take a 3-1 lead. The bullpen shut it down the rest of the game as Hughes, Feliz, Watson and Melancon all tossed scoreless innings. Melancon became the first Pirates pitcher to close both game of a doubleheader since Matt Capps in 2007. All in all, the Pirates bullpen struck out seven and only gave up one hit in four innings in this game.
There was a nice moment in this DH when former Pirate and Pittsburgh native Neil Walker came to bat in the 2nd inning of the first game. In a rare moment, the crowd gave Walker a standing ovation and he acknowledged them as Cervelli took his time watching from the mound to home plate to let this moment happen. Pirates players, fans and even Clint Hurdle were clapping saluting the hometown hero. Game two had a similar moment with more fans present, but not as long as it was in the first game. Walker was traded to New York in the offseason for Niese. The former Bucco went 2-for-8 on the day and struck out to end the night in game two.
We went from what looked like a mismatched series to the Pirates possibly sweeping the Metropolitans tonight. Jameson Taillon makes his Major League debut tonight as the Buccos go for the sweep.