A few things happened today to the Pirates that never really happen. The first is that they used the long ball to get a victory and push their record to 27-26 and they were able to win a series in Milwaukee for the first time since the 2010 season and to top it off Clint Barmes collected two hits with one of them being marked down as the game winning home run. I am still thinking I might wake up from this to find out that the Pirates got swept in the series but whatever. I hate the Brewers.
Things actually weren't all good early. The Brewers used a Barmes error to score a pair of unearned runs off Pirates ace James McDonald but that didn't much matter. McDonald went on to retire 14 straight batters after a Rickie Weeks single to plate the Brewers second run. McDonald might not have had his beset stuff but he was pretty spot on. The Brewers also didn't have a great lineup on the field but whatever.
The Pirates did exactly what they did in game one of the series, they got down early and then answered back, this time with five runs between the second and sixth innings. The scoring started in the second when Barmes blooped a single into right field to score former Brewer Casey McGehee. The Pirates then used the long ball in the fifth inning to plate three runs. Andrew McCutchen just continues to be one of the best in the game and put together an outstanding at bat that resulted in him putting the ball over the left centerfield wall to score a pair and then Garrett Jones dumped a ball out to right centerfield the very next batter.
Rod Barajas continues to hit the ball well and hit a solo shot to left field to give the Pirates a four run lead after five and a half innings. Barajas also added to his foul ball home run total in his first at bat when he hit a bomb down the left field line that was foul. He seems to do that at least once a game. The Brewers bounced back when Nyjer Morgan homered for the second time of the season (and second time in the series) in the sixth. It was interesting to watch Morgan celebrate the home run as if he just hit a game tying grand slam in the ninth in the playoffs rather than a rather meaningless solo home run in the sixth inning of a game where you were down three. Keep being you Nyjer. The Brewers hit another bomb in the seventh to make things interesting but Barmes rallied back and hit a home run for a much needed insurance run in the ninth.
The Brewers made it interesting in the ninth as Brooks Conrad hit a lead off home run of Joel Hanrahan to make the game one run again. It got interesting as Hanrahan walked a batter with one out but then got a huge double play ball for the victory. Money.
Like I said McDonald was pretty good tonight. He was only able to go six innings but struck out eight batters and scattered four hits. He got into some trouble in the sixth inning. After leading off the inning with a strikeout he gave up the home run to Morgan and then Corey Hart reached on a bunt base hit and Tyler Green walked to put the tying run on base. In years past the Pirates would absolutely unravel and lose the game but McDonald has been a rock this year. After the single and walk he got Weeks and Cody Ransom to strike out and get out of the inning. It wasn't a clean outing but it was still a pretty damn good one.
The offense busted out again in some respect. They gathered 11 hits, six of which were extra base hits. They had four two out RBI and added on when they had a lead. Earlier in the year when they got the lead it almost seemed like the offense would shut down but they added on and it turned out that they needed every single one of those runs to secure the win. This isn't going to be a high powered offense but it doesn't need to be. It was terribly bad for much of the season but as of late they are starting to break out. I know a lot of people throw out the line "if we had a league average offense..." but that isn't how it is going to work. They aren't going to be a league average offense this season but if they are even close to being league average from here on out then they will have a much better chance going forward.
Neil Walker seems to be getting into a hot streak and if he is then this is going to go well for the Pirates offense. As you know Walker is a pretty streaky hitter and despite him not showing any resemblance of power this year just having him get on base is going to help. Today he collected three hits and he is 10-for-36 in his last ten games and raised his season average ten points. It isn't great because he only has three extra base hits during that span (all doubles) but it is a start.
The Pirates are only a through 53 games so you can't say that this is any kind of turning point but this was certainly a pretty big series win. Going into this series the Pirates only had four wins in the last five years against the Brewers and this was the first series win in Milwaukee since April of 2010. There are a lot of guys on this team who were on that 20-0 team that lost and a lot of these players have struggled in Milwaukee. Hell, living outside of Milwaukee I have struggled through almost all of these games seeing on a few wins so this feels extra good. The guys in the locker room will give you the speech that all games mean the same thing but deep down I bet they are extra excited to get these wins. I know I am.