"So the Pirates are going to split with the Reds, winning the Morton and Cumpton starts." "Uhhhhhh, OK, I guess."— Pat Lackey (@whygavs) June 20, 2013
Yup, who saw that coming? Not many people. Whatever, it's a split and all things considered this series could have been a sweep either way. The Pirates and Reds are in the exact same position with each other that they were before the series started and to be honest that is alright with me.
This game was won by Brandon Cumpton in only his second start and did a pretty nice job for a Pirates team that is going through starting pitchers like they are going out of style. He went five innings and threw 90 pitches while giving up two runs (one earned) and only five hits. Sure it wasn't a blow you away start but he did what he needed to do, give the Pirates a chance to win. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth inning but was able to work out of it and after the five innings the Pirates were only down one run. I am not sure how many more starts he will make but for a guy to come up who most people didn't even know was in the system this really goes a way in explaining what the sytem has gone through in the last five years or so. Very impressive even if these guys don't give you the same shutdown start that you would expect from someone like A.J. Burnett or Wandy Rodriguez.
While Cumpton was really good you gotta tip your hat to the pen. They were without Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli thanks to Clint Hurdle using them in a four run game two days ago for no reason which left a close game sort of more nail biting then they normally would be. Bryan Morris and Tony Watson each came in for a pair of innings and were really good. Morris did give up three hits and a run but with the Pirates three run lead he didn't need to be perfect. Watson was even better as he was able to navigate through the eighth and ninth inning on the spot and earn his second save of the season. I know the eighth and ninth innings are magical for relievers and nobody can just jump right into to have success but Watson did a really nice job. I am hot and cold on Watson as I really have no idea how I feel about him but he had a really nice series against the Reds.
The offense banged out ten hits, which was really impressive after the first three games of this series and pretty much the offense was all on the back of Pedro Alvarez. He has been swinging a really good bat this month and went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and drove in all five runs for the Pirates today. When Pedro is locked in he can be as fun to watch as anyone in a Pirates uniform and today was one of those days. Biggest hit of the game, and maybe the series, came in the top of the seventh of a tie game. After Hurdle tried to force the Pirates into not scoring a run with a first and second no out and a bases loaded one out situations Alvarez faced left handed specialist Tony Cingrani. Alvarez cleared the bases with two outs on a double down the right field line and that was all they needed. I have no idea how to approach Alvarez. On one hand he looks like the guy who the Pirates used their first round pick on and then other times he looks like he should be playing in AA. Today he won the team a game, as he has done before this season, and when that happens all you can do is smile. His line is up to .223/.290/.464 and while that is not great when he is launching baseballs into the stands and driving in runs you can take the low batting average and on base. Would you like him to walk a little more? Sure, but he is what he is.
Starling Marte was the only other Pirate with more than one hit as he had two.
Like I said it was a really nice win for the Pirates on a day where they really didn't do much right. The defense wasn't great, the base running was atrocious, and the hitting still struck out 12 times and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left seven on. You take wins any way you can get them and when you can beat one of the top teams in the leauge with results like that then it is a good day.