Although a lot of people put a lot of weight on the Dodgers series I think we can all say that the three game series against the Cardinals was another level than that Dodgers series. The Dodgers are now sitting atop the NL West and not really a factor in the wild card race anymore while the Pirates will be battling the Cardinals for that final spot in the playoffs. The Pirates started off the three game set with a huge win, 2-1, over the Cards and now can finish no worse than tied with the Cards after this series.
It was all about James McDonald tonight who came back in a big way with a stellar six innings where he allowed only two hits and struck out sevens while not giving up a single run. While the strike zone was pretty huge all night McDonald was able to recognize that and pitched to the zone and had the hitters off balance all night and it was great to see after how bad he was since the break.
The Pirates only had six hits and scored two runs and the reason they scored those two runs really had nothing to do with hits. The Pirates got both runs in the fourth inning and were set up by consecutive singles from Travis Snider, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Snider would score on a wild pitch and then McCutchen would score on a passed ball. That was it. That is how the Pirates scored. They set it up with half of the hits they got in the entire game and then used a little bit of luck to get them a few runs.
Really the game was pretty well played all around. The Pirates played clean baseball and also got a pair of hits from Pedro Alvarez and the pen was able to shut it down for the most part aside from a struggle of an outing by Chris Resop.
Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan were good as usual and that was all she wrote.
I talked about the strike zone a little bit before but I would like to expand on that a little bit because I thought the Pirates did an outstanding job of playing to the zone while the Cardinals did a pretty terrible job in that department. The zone was pretty big in all aspects today and while McDonald recognized that and pitched to the larger zone the Cardinals did not adjust and complained the entire night about it. Listen, I am not saying the zone was good, because it wasn't, but it was consistent. As a hitter/pitcher the only thing you really should expect form the umpire is a consistent zone. Every umpires zone is going to vary so the first few innings you feel it out and if the umpire is consistent you should know what the zone is after a few innings and you should be able to adjust to what will be a strike. That is a part of baseball. The Cardinals evidently didn't get that memo and I found it interesting that they would rather bitch and complain in the seventh inning on pitches that have been a strike all night. The Pirates adjusted and the Cardinals didn't, simple as that.
The Pirates will be playing on FOX tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. You can click here for a link to see if you will be lucky enough to see the Pirates.