The Pirates haven't play a really good game in some time but they are still able to churn out wins and that is really all you can ask for. While last night it took a wild pitch to score the winning run tonight it was the Pirates getting their first hit with a runner in scoring position in the entire series. That is right, the entire series.
Pretty much a mundane game for the Pirates. The teams traded runs for the first few innings until the Astros took the lead with two RBI triple from Justin Maxwell to make the the score 3-2 Astros.
Things got interesting in the sixth inning as the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs. Pedro Alvarez came up to the plate and fouled a ball off that hit the dirt and spun in front of home plate where the Astros were able to turn the 2-3 double play to really take the wind out of the sails for the Pirates. Just as last night the Astros gaffed away an opportunity to get out of the inning without any damage. The very next hitter, Rod Barajas, was at the plate for another passed ball/wild pitch that scored a crucial run.
The back breaking hit came in the top of the eighth inning when Barajas got the Pirates first hit in 17 chances with runners in scoring position this series to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Barajas hasn't been very good in the recent past but I will take that clutch base hit every day of the week.
Wandy Rodriguez got his first start as a Pirate tonight and it didn't really go as planned. When I say that you have to kind of take it with a grain of salt because he earned the "quality start" going six innings and only giving up three runs but it really wasn't pretty. Coming into the game Rodriguez was walking only 2.20 batters per nine innings but tonight he walked five Astros which was only one off his career high. He has been a pretty good pitcher this year in terms of commanding the strike zone but today he looked a little off but was able to battle through it. He took the no decision but I am sure there were some butterflies and weird feelings he had pitching against the Astros as he spent he entire career in that organization. I wouldn't get too concerned with the walks tonight as he hasn't done that all season and even in his career he has never walked a lot of guys. In my eyes this was a one time thing and if this is a "bad" start for him then I can't wait to see the good.
I touched on it a few times already today but the Pirates just haven't got it done offensively. They have been able to get guys into scoring position but it is almost as if they are trying not to get those runners in. After tonight they are 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position and they are 3-0 in those games. That is something you can sustain and I will take any win but going forward they are going to need to do a whole hell of a lot better than that.
Starling Marte started off his Pirates career with a bang going 2-for-4 on the first night but since they he has gone 0-for-9 and didn't look that great tonight. He had a pretty nice at bat that resulted in an out off a pretty hard hit line drive but other than that his plate appearance has been pretty bad. This isn't something that is new but something that we knew was going to happen. A prime example of this was in one of his at bats when he was up 2-0 and swung at a slider out of the zone. When you are in a 2-0 count you typically look for "your" pitch and if it isn't there you let the pitch go no matter where it is. When I say "your" pitch I mean you look for a specific pitch in a specific zone and you don't pull the trigger unless it is there. That is something that Marte isn't very good at and if he can overcome that flaw he will be a much, much, better hitter. This is only three games so I will chalk it up to a good game and two not so good games but it will be interesting to see his adjustments going forward.
Clint Barmes had two hits, so there's that. I know a lot of people bang on Barmes because his offense is just so bad that I can't even explain it but if he could find a way to hit even .250 or so the rest of the way then that is a huge boost to the Pirates offense.
One guy that has been just outstanding this year in his role is Brad Lincoln. He came in for the eighth inning tonight and was just throwing filthy pitches. I know a lot of teams are looking at him when the Pirates are look for teams to deal with but it is really great to see him accept his rold after he didn't pitch well as a starter. He is a big time asset out of the pen and has a sub-1.00 ERA out of the pen this year.
The Pirates have a chance for a four game sweep of the Astros tomorrow which would be huge. I know the Astros are bad and that they have lost 12 games straight but winning four in a row against a team is pretty hard to do. The Pirates could take this candy and then go into Chicago with some momentum then they would be in really good shape after starting this ten game trip against the Cubs, Astros then the Cubs again.