Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pirates Game 66 Recap - Pirates 7, Twins 2

How good does it feel to come out and get a win and have the offense once again come up with some hits and runs all while Kevin Correia was on the bump for the Pirates. Sure, the Pirates were playing one of the worst teams in the league in the Twins but I will take wins against any team that the Pirates play against.

The offense actually got started in the first inning and it came from an unlikely source. Josh Harrison launched his second home run of the year into the left field seats but it wasn't really as routine as that. The ball wasn't even deep enough to go out but it hit off the very top of the wall and off Josh Willingham's body and went over the fence. It was a pretty good sign of things to come for the Pirates on the night.

They added a single run in the fifth with a Casey McGehee sacrifice fly and then they scored a pair of runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh inning to negate a two run blast that the Twins got in the top of the seventh inning. Ho hum. Clint Barmes platted a run with one of his three hits (!) in the sixth followed by a RBI groundout by Matt Hague.

The seventh inning was highlighted by an absolute bomb by Andrew McCutchen to left field that stayed just inside the left field foul pool to score Harrison and then Rod Barajas hit a ball that would have been out in most ballparks but only resulted in a sacrifice fly. A run is a run though and that rounded out the scoring for a 7-2 win.

I will say that Correia came out and gave the team a pretty good chance to win. He didn't go very deep in the game but his control was much improved from his past few starts and he turned it over to the pen with the Twins scoring no runs. He gave up four hits on 5.1 and struck out two while only walking one. As a guy who will be sitting in the fifth spot of the rotation this is what you are looking for but to be honest I don't feel comfortable that he will be able to do this on a consistent basis but he was able to get it done tonight and right now that is all that matters.

There is no two ways about it, the offense was really good tonight. Maybe it wasn't an all around effort but three guys in the lineup had three hits and another had two. Sure that is 11 of the team's 12 hits from four guys but when you get good pitching you aren't going to need more than that.

McCutchen is just a freak, especially when he is hitting lefties. Coming into tonight he was hitting a league-best .458 against left handed pitching and he collected three more hits tonight in four at bats to raise his overall average to .332 and raise is OPS to .952 with the home run and then double later in the game. He was only a triple away from the cycle. He is far and away the best hitter on the team and how he only ranks tenth on the All-Star game ballot is beyond me. He is one of the best outfielders in the game and through the first 66 games of the season you are seeing why.

While I touched on a few of the things that Harrison did tonight it really doesn't say how good he really was. He was one of the players with three hits tonight and every time he got a hit he scored. It does help hitting at the top of the order to do that but the Pirates have struggled this year at the top of the order getting on base and this just shows you what can happen when you do. I don't particularly think that Harrison is any more than just a bench utility guy but to come off the bench after not playing much recently to get three hits and score three runs and give a spark to the team means a lot and every team needs a guy like that.

The next thing I am going to type is going to be weird to read, but rest assured it is the truth. Clint Barmes is not at the mendoza line and is hitting .200 after a three hit night. I know, you might want to slap yourself in the face and read it again but it is true. Three hits and even drove in a run with a great hit and run that resulted in a double. Barmes hasn't been good all season but when you get one of his good games you need to win it because you never know when it might happen again. He is hitting .286 in June and even though that is only 49 at bats it is still a massive improvement. Not saying he is going to do this the rest of the year, because he's not, but if he can hit .250 from here on out the lineup is not a total loss at the end of the night.

The biggest question mark going into the game tonight and into the week is what is Pedro Alvarez going to do? He had a great weekend but if there is anything we know with Alvarez it's that as quick as the hot streak comes is just as quick as it could go away. Well, tonight it stayed around. He worked a full count walk in his first at bat and then weakly grounded out to first base in his second before smacking a single up the middle and then crushing a ball to left centerfield that nearly left the yard but alas he had to settle for a double. I can deal with this kind of game for Dro. No idea what this even means or how much longer this will continue but I will roll with it and I suggest you do too.

To be honest I really can't find much to be mad about tonight. It was a really good win where they got seven runs and had 12 hits. The starting pitching was good enough and the bullpen was pretty good aside from one pitch from Juan Cruz. I know you can't say that series should be a sweep but the Pirates could be in a good spot to take three games from the Twins and that will be clutch considering the Pirates have a pretty tough matchup against the Tigers this weekend.

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