It seems like it has been a while since I have got a recap up here and if you are one of the (few) people who check in for a recap on a regular night then you are in luck because I got your fix right here. The Pirates picked up their fourth straight win and took the first game of the series against the Reds 4-1 on Memorial Day. This win comes on the heels of a series sweep of the Chicago Cubs and now has the Pirates an even 24-24 on the season which is four games better than their record at this point last season.
For the second straight game the Pirates offense really showed up with some big time hits but this game was all about James McDonald. McDonald continues to be dominant this year as he went eight full innings of scoreless baseball giving up only five hits and retiring the last 12 batters he faced. While he only struck out five batters this game was one of his most efficient of the season. There really wasn't much the Reds the could although they had two great opportunities in the third and fourth inning where the Redlegs had runners on first and second base with no outs but McDonald shut the door and didn't even allow a runner to reach third base. Outstanding. Last season McDonald only went seven innings or more twice (the most being 7.1 innings) in 31 starts but this year he has accomplished that feat five times already with two starts going eight innings. Really great to see.
The offense pounded out ten hits and scored runs in each of the first three innings. This really isn't something that the Pirates have done all season but at some point the offense was going to start performing. They have been so bad but at some point they were going to string together a few good games and they did so against former Pirate Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo only was able to last four innings and that got into the Reds bullpen so that was great, especially with two more games left. Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones collected a pair of two out RBI in the first inning and then Neil Walker doubled home James McDonald with two outs in the second inning. Rod Barajas rounded out the scoring in the third inning with another Pirates two out hit to scored Alvarez who doubled for the second time in the game. The Bucs struck out only five times in the game and hit .500 (4-for-8) with runners in scoring position. Every starter but Clint Barmes had a hit.
Alvarez really had a nice game with a pair of doubles and nearly had a third double in his third at bat but Drew Stubbs made a pretty outstanding play against the wall in centerfield. In those three at bats he worked the count and got a pitch he could drive and hammered it. He grounded out a double play in his final at bat but it was really a nice day at the plate. He now has a five game hitting streak and has driven in a run in three straight games. It has been a really up and down season for Alvarez but maybe we are starting to see him go on the uptick a little bit here. He only has one strikeout in his last three games and has been putting together some good plate appearances. By no means is this a finished product but it would be great to see him go on a little streak again.
Barajas also had a nice game with a pair of hits and although they were both singles he is giving a little confidence to the bottom of the Pirates lineup. While Barmes doesn't look like he can get it done Hot Rod seems to have found his groove and now has a .231/.288/.398 line which is pretty much what the Pirates were looking for when they signed him. If he can prove that the month of April was just a bad streak then this signing goes from being a bad one to a decent to good one.
Pirates are back at it tomorrow. I might not be around much of the next couple of weeks due to my travels but I will try and get something up here and there.