Leake isn't a great pitcher by any stretch of the imagination but he can be had early. The Pirates got to him in the first inning with a run and then scored four in the second inning. While Leake settled in after that that was enough of a cusion that the Pirates could play with and despite Brandon Phillips trying to put the team on his back the Pirates scored just enough early to make an Andrew McCutchen solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning stand as the winning run.
The Pirates are a streaky team and that is a double edged sword. As we saw for much of the first six games the lows can be really bad. Like, really bad. The highes can be even better. Tonight, for example, the Pirates 1-4 hitters went 8-of-16 with four runs and five runs batted in. Every starting positoin player had at least one hit and the Pirates had 12 hits total. I don't expect this kind of production on an every night basis but this is what this team should do to a guy like Leake.
The Pirates drew three walks and only struck out four times. This team is going to strike out a lot this season but when they don't they can put the ball in play and hits are going to fall. A guy like Neil Walker who was hitting balls right at guys all year finally found some holes tonight and knocked in a couple with a bases loaded single.
A.J. Burnett didn't record a win but as you should know pitcher wins really mean nothing. He was better in this start than his first few starts. Burnett has been pretty good but he just isn't being very efficient. Sure, he is getting a lot of strikeouts but with those strikeouts comes a pretty significant pitch count. He was able to get through six innings tonight but he threw 106 pitches. That is a lot of pitches for six innings. Look, I love the strikeouts just as much as you do but instead of an eight pitch at bat to get a strikeout I would take a few strikeouts away for a groundout to Clint Barmes so Burnett can finish the seventh of eighth inning. Burnett loves the strikeout and he knows he can get them almost at will but I wish he would be a little smarter about trying to stay in the game longer. I know that sounds weird to hear but I would much rather have Burnett in longer than have to rely on Tony Watson or Jared Hughes.
Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli are just straight cash. The reason I love Melancon is that he has no time for you to mess around. I didn't look this up but I don't think he's thrown more than 15 pitches in any of his outings so far this year. He gets in, throwns strikes, and gets out. Watson threw 28 pitches tonight in a full inning of work and even Grilli threw 24 pitches to get the save. Melancon knows he has a job to do and just gets it done.
It was National Grilled Cheese Day. How poetic is it that Grilli had a chance for a save tonight AND that he completed the save. Actual quote from Grilli in the post game:
"I had one (grilled cheese) today. I don't know if that is cannibalism or not"
What a human. Dude has game seven of the World Series adrenalin every single time he comes into the game. The fist pump he gave after the save was awesome.
This was going to be a really tough series. The Reds are a really good club and the Pirates are going to face their number one and two the next two games. I am not saying that they can't win those games but the win tonight makes it a little easier if they do. I mean why not win the series though?