Friday, May 3, 2013

Pirates Game 29 Recap - Pirates 3, Nationals 1

-On a night that the Penguins got outplayed by the Islanders the Pirates put together a pretty nice game against a pretty good Nationals team. The Pirates were most likely out of sight out of mind for most people but for those who were following it was really nice win and the team just continues to find ways to win.

-A.J. Burnett was fantastic tonight. It might not have been his best outing of the year but it is the kind of outing that you just love to see as a fan. A big problem this year for the Pirates starters is the lack of getting deep into games. This was something that Burnett had a problem with this season but tonight he went seven innings, gave up only five hits and one earned run while striking out nine and only walking one. I talked earlier today about the starting pitchers getting deeper into games and giving the team a chance to win and that is exactly what Burnett did. You don't have to throw seven shutout innings every time out but games like this can be just as good when the offense can pick you up.

-Jordy Mercer finally got the callup thanks the Pirates finally putting Neil Walker on the DL and he came through in a big way today. With the score tied at one he went deep to left center for his second career home run and what turned out to be the game winning hit. Mercer has been hitting the ball really well in Indianapolis and to be honest I wondered aloud at the beginning of the season why he wasn't up instead of having John McDonald on the field but I would like to see Mercer stick when Walker comes off the DL. I really don't see this happening since Clint Hurdle LOVES Clint Barmes, Brandon Inge, and McDonald and you know how much he loves those veteran guys even if they all aren't very good at playing baseball. As many have said Mercer should probably stick so the Pirates can see what they have in him with Barmes being a free agent this offseason but I doubt they do that and it will be a mistake.

-Andrew McCutchen hasn't been very good all year but I think he is starting to break out of it. In the second game of the Milwaukee series he had four hits and today he had three more hits. He hit a monster of a home run in the first inning that went into the second deck in left center and probably is one of the farthest home runs of the year so far for the Pirates. He has been using the entire field and that is when you know he is starting to get into a groove. The Pirates have been playing well as he has struggled at the plate and if he gets going who knows what the Pirates can do.

-Sarling Marte with two more hits and his eigth and ninth stolen bases. He has just been doing it all this season and while I didn't have him playing this well I am more than happy to be wrong. Just an absolute fun player to watch.

-It wasn't all good for the Pirates has they only went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. If Burnett wasn't as strong as he was this could have been the reason the Pirates dropped this game.

-All three Pirates runs were driven in with two outs.

-What might be the best thing about Burnett going seven innings is that there was no bridge to gap between Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. I am not a big fan of how the Pirates have constructed the pen but the Melancon/Grilli combo in the final two innings is about as good as it gets in teh league. Melancon went through the heart of the Nationals order in the eighth and Grilli had three strikeouts in the ninth and that is about as good as it gets. Personally I don't see why guys like Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, and Jose Contreras are all in the pen at the same time but if you don't have to use them in high leverage situations with the starter going seven innings then it isn't a big deal.

-Pirates now only need to win one of the next two in order to win the series. They have Jeff Locke and Wandy Rodriguez going the next two nights against Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez so it is not going to be easy but the Pirates have the guys they probably want going in that spot to give themselves a good chance to win.

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