Saturday, August 27, 2011

Game 132 Recap - Pirates 7, Cardinals 0

Evidently when the Pirates are going against one of the top pitchers in the game then all that needs to happen is have Brad Lincoln pitch against them in the black and gold. For the second straight start Lincoln matched up against a NL Central staff ace and beat them. Last start it was against Zack Greinke and he gave up only three hits and two earned runs to the potent Brewers lineup and today he went six innings, gave up six hits and allowed zero runs in only 78 pitches.

The offense did their job and smacked double-digit hits and scored seven runs to out slug the best hitting team in the league. Josh Harrison led the parade with a three hit game and also collected three RBI, which included RBI singles in the second and fourth innings.

The Bucs offense scored single runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings but did the most damage in the fourth inning off Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Coming into the game Carpenter was 12-2 against the Priates and has pretty much dominated them his entire career. The Pirates bombed him today for nine hits and six earned runs in five innings of work, which is a career high for the Pirates offense against Carpenter. Before today the most earned runs the Pirates have ever scored off him was four (happened three times) but things just clicked today and it was all good.

What turned out to be the biggest inning of the game, the top of the fourth inning, scoring four runs on four hits and sent nine players to the plate and really put the game almost out of reach. Garrett Jones continues to have an outstanding August as he doubled home Andrew McCutchen before Harrison singled home Neil Walker and Jones. Lincoln then doubled home a run into deep right center field to help his own cause and round out the scoring in the fourth. It was just a great inning for the Pirates offense, mostly from guys you don’t expect to get those kinds hits.

Along with Harrison having a three hit day Jones also posted three hits. The 5-6-7 hitters for the Pirates today (Walker, Jones, Harrison) combined to go 7-fo-11 with five runs scored and five RBI. Jose Tabata picked up another hit and McCutchen had two hits so it was a nice, well rounded, offensive performance that wasn’t there for the Pirates in the last couple games in St. Louis. Yesterday it was all about the top of the lineup but today it was about the whole lineup and they needed it.

In a blowout game like this it can often be overlooked how the pen figures into it. Everyone is going to talk about how good Brad Lincoln was (he was) and how he will earn the win (deservingly so) but there were four innings that the Pirates bullpen had to cover and not blow the seven run lead (which they have done before). Daniel McCutchen came out and did a really nice job to shut down the Cardinals in the seventh and eighth innings. He gave up only one hit and struck out two to give the Cardinals no hope to come back. All it would take is a couple runs in the seventh and a couple more in the eighth to really make this game interesting, but McCutchen didn’t let that happen.

The Pirates were again good with runners in scoring position going 4-for-8 and collected four two-out RBI from four different players. The pitching staff also shut down the heart of the Cardinals order (Albert Pujols-Holliday-Lance Berkman) to go 2-for-10 with both of those hits being singles. That is what you have to do and although it isn’t easy, and it won’t always happen, it feels good when you can shut down the lineup.

The Pirates will finish up the four game set tomorrow.

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