The Pirates finished up the "first half" of the season today and after 93 games the Pirates are sitting with 56 wins and now are on pace for 98 wins with 69 games left in the season. That is damn impressive. In the entire 2010 season the Pirates managed only 57 wins, right now after 93 games they have 56 wins. What a journey it has been.
This game was a loss. Gerrit Cole got knocked around in the first inning for three runs and then settled down to throw five innings where he gave up six hits and struck out five but it yet again was the early innings that got the best of him and forced him to be pretty much perfect the rest of the way. Cole came out of the gate strong for the Pirates but he has struggled on and off in the big leagues. I think this is what Neal Huntington was talking about when he was saying that Cole still needed some work in AAA and was still saying that they really weren't ready to call him up when they did this year. I am not saying that Cole has been bad by any stretch but there is still room for improvement and hopefully he can make those improvements as the second half unfolds.
The offense was stagnant for much of the game and really didn't come alive until the final three innings. The Pirates lead the league in come from behind victories but I think I speak for everyone when I say that this isn't how you want to play the season when you get behind and hope you can come back. Today was the Sunday lineup with Michael McKenry in the lineup and had Jose Tabata hitting in the five spot but the offense has been a problem for more than just today and more for just this series. Maybe the All-Star break off will help some of the bats recharge.
Starling Marte and Clint Barmes each had a pair of hits. While Marte had two hits and has played pretty well this year I still would love to see him learn how to command the strike zone. A vast majority of the time I don't really think he knows if the pitch is going to be in the zone or not and while I don't think he predetermines if he is going to swing or not he doesn't seem to be very good at recognizing pitches. Not a good thing for your leadoff hitter when he is pretty bad at drawing walks. I can't imagine how dangerous he could be if he could get his walk rate up to 7% or 8% rather than the 3.5% that he is at now.
Before the game today we learned that Mark Melancon was named to the National League All-Star team. He replaced Jeff Locke who skipped his start today with "back tightness" and will make the third start post break. Good on Melancon as he absolutely deserves to be on the All-Star team as he has been ridiculous good this year. That makes it five All-Stars for the Pirates. Pretty neat.
While the sweep would be good, the Pirates are still 19 games over .500 and have had a really good season so far. A lot of people are going to be waiting for a collapse to come but this is as good as I have felt about the Pirate in the past couple of seasons where the Pirates have been good at the break. Fun times to be a Pirates fan.