Coming into this series I think we all knew that the Astros were a struggling club that had lost 22 of their last 24 games and that their payroll was only $11M or so since trading off nearly all of their top end lineup. Tonight was a good start to the four game series where the Pirates slugged their way to victory on the back of Starling Marte.
By now I am sure you heard of what Marte did, but if you didn't then you know that he took the first pitch he saw from starter Dallas Keuchel and put it into the left field seats on the first ever pitch he saw. Pretty awesome feat that I break down in an earlier post I had.
Later in the inning Garrett Jones followed an Andrew McCutchen single with a bomb to right field and then in the second inning Clint Barmes hit a two-run shot to score Rod Barajas and that was pretty much all the Pirates would need plus a couple more runs.
A.J. Burnett had things under control as he just cruised past a depleted Astros lineup and only allowed five base runners the entire game. He gave up a bloop hit in the third inning, a single through the right side in the seventh inning and then a pair of home runs in the eighth but other than that Burnett was in total control as you expect him to be. He struck out five hitters and had Astros hitter chasing pitches all over the zone while ramping his fastball up to 93 pretty late in the game. Nothing more here to see.
Marte was as advertised as he had some pretty nice at bats on the night. Aside from his home run he singled on a ball that just got through the left side of the infield but even if it was fielded they had no chance of getting the speedy Marte. While coming into the call up it was well known that Marte had a problem with strikeouts but he got behind in the count 0-2 on a couple of his at bats but was able to work the count even on both accounts so that is something that was really nice to see. Granted this was against a AAA pitcher but I think that might have been part of the reason to call up Marte when they did. The Astros aren't going to throw anyone out there that will overwhelm him so getting him up now and let him get his feet we against the Astros was probably a good call. It will be fun to watch him going forward.
Interesting to note that with the three home runs today the Pirates now have 110 home runs. Last season they only had 107 home runs through 162 games and this year they have three more than that in only 98 games. Yea, that is a pretty significant turnaround.
The Pirates have three more with the Astros and to be honest I expect to get three more wins. I know you can never expect to get a sweep because that is really hard to do even in a three game series but the Astros are really in a bad way right now and the Pirates need to jump all over that.