My oh my, that was a fun game to watch. I know I have said this a couple times already this season maybe and I am sure I will say it again if the Pirates continue to play some pretty good baseball but this was maybe the best game of the season from a viewing perspective. The Pirates offense bounced back from a bad night last night to put up nine runs and 12 hits. Oh yea James McDonald pitched his first complete game of his career. Ho hum.
To be honest this wasn't really that close. If James McDonald only had an average start then Andrew McCutchen would have been the star of the show. Not that he wasn't a star in this game but he got the Pirates started in the first and all but put the game away in the second inning.
With two outs in the first McCutchen tripled to right centerfield and then scored on a Garrett Jones infield hit. In the second inning he came up with the bases loaded an hit an absolute rocket to left centerfield for a bases clearing double. You know, just a normal day at the office for one of the games best players.
Cutch is now up to .339/.397/.574 on the year and went 3-for-4 tonight and only came a home run shy of the cycle. He was standing on deck in the eighth inning but didn't get a chance to come up for that final at bat. His swing has been so good and consistent this year that it really isn't even funny. He has been locked in pretty much all season and has the confidence that nobody can get a pitch by him. While his strikeout rates are a little high this year and his walk rate is down there isn't too much to complain about with him.
While the Pirates, namely McCutchen, gave McDonald four runs to work with in the first two innings he wouldn't need nearly that much as he was pretty dominant on the bump. I am not going to sit here and pretend like the Twins have a good offensive lineup, because they don't, but McDonald pretty much did whatever he wanted on the mound tonight. As I said before he went all nine innings for the first time in his career and became the first Pirates pitcher to go the distance this season. He gave up a mere six hits and struck out five while not walking a single batter, lowering his ERA to 2.19. He threw 120 pitches which also was a season high but during the game there wasn't really a single time I thought he wasn't in control and that is really great to see.
While McDonald was cruising and McCutchen was, well being McCutchen, the rest of the offense decided that they wanted to join the party. It started in the sixth inning when Pedro Alvarez singled and then Rod Barajas went deep for the seventh time this season. Then in the seventh inning the Pirates really started to have some fun. Birthday boy Garrett Jones went deep to right field to score McCutchen, who singled to start the inning, and then Alvarez hit a ball out of PNC Park.
Let me say this, I watch nearly every Pirates game in my apartment, largely alone, and I don't really get too too excited during the game. When the ball left Alvarez's bat I yelled. This ball was absolutely tanked and hit the top of the wall on the far left side of the right field stands and bounced down to the river where some guy sitting on the river walk. Pedro has been swinging a pretty good bat and after striking out and grounding to first he produced two really good at bats that accounted for three runs. I know we would all like to see some more consistency from him but don't worry about that right now and just soak in what he is doing. It is truly fun to watch a guy with the power he has hit the ball that far.
Just an outstanding game overall. A dominant pitching performance and the bombs away offense really gives you an idea of what this Pirates team can do. The Twins aren't good and their pitching really isn't good but when you are playing a bad team you have to win that series and burry them. That is what the Pirates did.
The Tigers come into town for the weekend and it isn't going to be easy. A.J. Burnett goes for the Pirates tomorrow night so that will give them a very good chance to win but then the Bucs will face off against Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander on Saturday and Sunday. The worse part? The Pirates will send out Brad Lincoln and Kevin Correia on Saturday and Sunday. Man. Who cares, great win for the Pirates tonight.