Nothing like Wandy Rodriguez going into the game and throwing six shutout innings while Pedro Alvarez continues to dominate the Cardinals to get the Pirates to within one game of the birds in the wild card standings. It feels good, real good.
Everything that happened last night pretty much carried over to tonight. I kind of wondered to myself last night if it was just going to be a one time thing of how dominant the Pirates could be in all facets of the game but tonight they proved that they can do that in consecutive nights.
Rodriguez has been through the ringers with the fans, and mostly for good reason. He hasn't really been all that good since being dealt to the Pirates but tonight was probably his best start of his Pirates tenure so far. He only was able to go six innings but only allowed three hits. The only player who gave Rodriguez any sort of trouble was Jon Jay who worked three walks on Rodriguez and saw 24 pitches in his three plate appearances against Wandy. Other than that he cruised and got some big outs and really never gave the Cardinals a chance to get into the game even though his pitch count was a little higher than you would like.
Alvarez was again the main driving force for the offense and man did he put on another offensive display at PNC Park. He blasted a three run bomb almost out of the stadium in the third inning that stretched the Pirates lead to four runs and then he roped a double into the right centerfield gap and scored on a Josh Harrison double. He is laying off pitches out of the zone and punishing pitches that were in the strike zone. He is locked in and it really sucks that the Pirates have the day off tomorrow because with the way that Pedro is swinging the bat you want him to swing at as many pitches as he can on consecutive days.
The offense as a whole was pretty outstanding tonight. They scored five runs and all five runs came with two outs. The past couple of weeks when the Pirates were in this slump they weren't swinging the bat very well with two outs and runners on and they completely turned that around tonight. Garrett Jones laced a two out double to give the Pirates a first inning run, Alvarez launched a home run with two outs and then Alvarez and Harrison went back-to-back doubles with two outs to round out the scoring. Just exactly what you want to see.
It also was nice that the Pirates just weren't reliant on Alvarez to get the offense going. The team only put together nine hits but every starter but Jose Tabata had a hit and four extra base hits. Really great to see and I think the Pirates might be starting to come out of the slump that they were in but they worked the count and got into good hitting counts. The most evident of this will most likely get overlooked but before the Alvarez home run both Travis Snider and Jones worked walks to bring up Pedro and he made them pay. That is what good offenses do.
It must be noted that the Pirates shut out the league's top offense on back to back days and finished the three game set without giving up a run in the last 21 innings. The Cardinals have the best run differential and the pitching staff, starters and reliever alike, didn't allow a single run in over two games. Awesome.
The Pirates get the day off tomorrow before they travel to Milwaukee for a three game set that I will be attending. Get pumped.