Funny thing happened just then. My feed started to smooth out and I kept watching and after Jeanmar Gomez finished a scoreless 2.1 innings the Pirates came up to bat. Michael McKenry hit a home run to break up the shutout which was cool then the next two Pirates were retired. Starling Marte singled then Travis Snider doubled (should have been a home run but whatever) followed by an Andrew McCutchen double and a Gaby Sanchez single. Things got really interesting as the Pirates had four runs with a lot of game left to play. Needless to say I wasn't as sleepy as I was before.
Jared Hughes came on and had a pretty rough inning and gave up a run and three hits to make the score 6-4 in favor of the Reds. The Reds brought on Jonathan Broxton to hold the fort until Aroldis Chapman could come in and slam the door shut on the Pirates. Funny thing was that Broxton was nothing short of awful and the Pirates took advantage. Broxton walked Alvarez to leadoff the inning then McKenry went deep again to left field and it was all of a sudden a tie game. After a groundout and a walk to Jose Tabata the Pirates had the go ahead run on with Marte coming to the plate and with the way he was hitting you were kinda hoping for a single up the middle or a gap shot to maybe give Tabata a chance to score. Pat Lackey had this to say:
Once again, it's time for Starling Marte to do something exciting.
— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) April 14, 2013
Marte goes waaaaaaay deep to left field and the Pirates lead. Just unreal stuff at PNC Park. If the inning ended there I would have been more than happy but the Pirates poured it on. They had three more base runners and two more runs before they were done and it was a four run lead heading into the ninth inning. The Pirates scored as many runs in the eighth inning as the Reds did in the entire game (stat thanks to @Christz9, I guess). That might not seem like a very big deal on most days but the Reds had six runners entering the inning and the Pirates had four. Just a huge offensive explosion.
Over the seventh and eighth innings the Pirates scored nine runs on ten hits. For a team that scored eight runs in their first six games they did as much in two innings against the team that most regard as the best in the NL Central for a series sweep. If that doesn't get you pumped then not much will.
Here are some more notes on the game:
-Lost in all this was the Phil Irwin start. It was his major league debut and it really wasn't a good one. Irwin is known for his control and you could tell that the nerves of pitching in his first big league game was getting to him as this was the first game in his professional career (including minors) that he walked more than three hitters in a game. Today he walked four and it took a couple of innings before he really was able to get settled in but by that time he had already worked up a solid pitch count and had given up four runs. It would be interesting to see what he could do in another start as I am sure things were all over the place for him today. He isn't going to blow you away but I would imagine in another start he would fair a tad better than he did today.
-Can't say enough about Marte. Started the day 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts but then bounced back with a single and the game winning home run. I have been a pretty big skeptic on Marte but I love that he is proving me wrong even if it is just a snapshot in time.
-Just an absolute monster game from McKenry. The two home runs are just massively big and it seems like every year he has one of these games where he just puts the team on his back and this time the team fed off of it and everyone else joined the party. I am not really convinced that McKenry is an every day guy because each of the past two season we have seen him struggle in that capacity but I think that now he should get some more playing time. This is the 12th game of the season and Russell Martin is hitting only .065 and McKenry only has started two games. I don't think he should be the number one but he should get some more time.
-After the awful start to the season the Pirates are playing some pretty good baseball. The pitching is struggling a bit but the offense is there to bail them out. I mean Jeff Locke and Irwin started games against Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos and the Pirates won both of those games. Just an outstanding series win.
-What maybe is most encouraging about all of this is that the Pirates offense is breaking out of the slump a lot sooner than they did last season. It took almost till May for the Pirates to start hitting the baseball with any success and right now we are at April 14 and the offense has been around for much of the last week. I am not saying that this makes the Pirates a playoff contender or they will be there till the end but it makes this season amazingly interesting knowing that the offense can step up sooner than May or June. This is going to be a fun team to watch.
-While a lot of people wanted to say the season was over after a 1-5 start as we see now it certainly is not. At the same time as much as I want to say that the 1-5 start was just a small portion of the season you can say the same thing about the recent 5-1 stretch the Pirates are on. It is still really early in the season and who knows where it will lead. It is nice that the Pirates are back at an even point after the truly horrible start but if they can get a few quality starts from the staff and the hitter can keep plugging away like this then it is going to be a really fun season to follow the Pirates.