For a team that couldn’t stop the Cardinals from scoring if its life depended on it the third game in the series was a nice relief. The Pirates staff combined for 17(!) strikeouts and the offense got the lead and then added to it to end the road trip 3-4.
I wasn’t able to see much of this game on TV but from the little I got to see via highlights and box score shows that the whole team was able to bounce back after a couple of just brutal games to get a win. They collected 13 total hits where every starter but Michael McKenry and Andrew McCutchen (who left the game due to the flu after two at bats) got a hit.
Jose Tabata continues to hit well as he collected three hits and raised his average to .244 after having it at .111 about two weeks ago. The last five games have been outstanding for Tabata where he is hitting .364 (8-for-22) with three doubles and seven runs scored. It would be outstanding if Tabata could start getting into a groove because Alex Presley has been hot and cold recently and there needs to be some consistency in the top of the lineup.
Speaking of getting hot, how about Pedro Alvarez? He went deep again for the seventh time which is the second most home runs in the National League and also collected a single in his second at bat. What was great to see was that the home run was on the left field side of centerfield. His OPS is now over .900 (.912) and now has his OBP around .300. I think it is pretty important to note that this is very early in the season to say that Pedro is back. I support this guy as much as the next person but in reality he only has 74 plate appearances and the first 24 of those were just horrid. I think he has come a long way but as I said on twitter, Alvarez is going to be a streaky hitter and you have to be just as excited about the highs as much as you loathe the lows. Don’t kid yourself, Pedro will struggle again, but hopefully it won’t be for a long stretch.
How about Erik Bedard? After getting zero run support and losing each of his first four starts he bounced back and has two straight wins. He got into major trouble in the first and second inning which was highlighted by falling behind 3-0 on Matt Holiday with the bases loaded in the second inning but got him to bounce out and end the threat. After that it was all gravy. From the third through the fifth inning Bedard was nearly perfect. I know you might think that he didn’t give up many base runners, but it was much better than that. He struck out seven straight batters. Seven, before a single with two outs broke up the streak. He ended up fanning 11 through five innings and only gave up a pair of runs and five hits. It wasn’t great that he threw 104 pitches in only five innings but most of those pitcher were in the first and second inning but overall the outing was great. 11 strikeouts.
The pen came in and did the job. Against a great offense like the Cardinals it is tough to keep them off the scoreboard, especially when your starter is out after five innings but the Pirates bullpen has been really good this year. Jared Hughes, Juan Cruz and Jason Grilli combined for three innings and gave up only one hit and struck out four to keep it scoreless for Joel Hanrahan. Exactly what you need.
Garrett Jones and Clint Barmes (!) also had a pair of hits yesterday as the Pirates only struck out five times as a team which is a pretty small miracle considering how they have been striking out a ton in the most recent past.
This series could have been a total disaster but luckily the Pirates were able to fight back and get the win. They now play against a pretty good Reds team back at PNC Park tonight.