In 2010 the Pittsburgh Pirates won 57 games, total. Fifty-seven. All season. With a win today the Pirates won their 70th game and we are only eight days into August. The Pirates are 26 games over .500 and I think it is fair to say the thoughts of collapse are over (or should be) and this is a pretty damn good team. The Marlins aren't good but Jose Fernandez is good and the Pirates worked his pitch count and chased him after only five innings and walking five times and scoring two runs off him. They also only struck out five times which I wouldn't have believed if I didn't see the final box score.
I didn't get to tun into the game until about the sixth inning so I missed all of Gerrit Cole's outing but from the little I was able to catch on Twitter and what the box score shows he it wasn't his best of outings. He threw 73 pitches over five innings while giving up six hits, striking out four and giving up four runs. The first inning has given Cole problems throughout his young major league career and today was no different. He walked the leadoff hitter and then gave up a one out double and a two out single to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. He did bounce back and let only one hitter reach base from the second through fourth inning but gave up a two run bomb in the fifth with one out. He did get out of the fifth without giving up another run but all told I think the first inning was easily his roughest test today and this really isn't anything new. I can't really talk much about his command and stuff since I didn't see him but it seems like he didn't have it and then settled down.
The Pirates cut the lead in half off Fernandez with a Neil Walker one out single to score Starling Marte who walked (!!!!) and then Pedro Alvarez singled to score Alex Presley before Walker was thrown out trying to score from second.
With the Pirate able to chase out Fernandez they got to hit against the Marlins bullpen, which is decent and much worse than what the starters have given the Marlins so far throughout this series. Chad Qualls came in the bottom of the seventh and walked Jose Tabata before giving up hits to both Marte and Andrew McCutchen (who was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore right shoulder). Qualls was promptly yanked and then Mike Dunn gave up a sacrifice fly to Walker and then walked Alvarez (which Pedro should have been called out on a 3-2 pitch but whatever, he worked back from an 0-2 count against a lefty to draw a walk) which followed with him getting yanked. Gaby Sanchez then hit a sacrifice fly in his pinch hit opportunity off Ryan Webb and it was a tie game.
The Pirates and Marlins didn't really do much offensively the rest of regulation (can I use that as a baseball reference?) despite the Marlins loading the bases off Justin Wilson in the eighth inning thanks to a pair of walks and a hit, all with two outs. Wilson got out of the jam so all was good. You just had that feeling the Pirates were going to win this, somehow.
The game went to extra innings and after Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes pitched back-to-back perfect innings the Pirates rewarded them. Josh Harrison singled to leadoff the inning and ended up on second base with two outs when walk-off sensation Russell Martin had a pinch hit single through the left side to easily score Harrison and the Pirates walked it off for the ninth time this season, a new record in the PNC Park era for one season.
I think something of note in this game is that while they faced off against a starting pitcher who had 27 strikeouts in his last two starts and only struck out five times against him and seven times in the entire game. The Pirates also walked seven times which was only the fifth time all season where the Pirates have walked as many, or more, times than they have struck out.
Walker is starting to hit the ball really well. He was 3-for-3 today and now is hitting .259/.358/.407. I think most of you know how I feel about Walker, as I am more indifferent about him, but he can go through streaks where he can really be the man in the offense. On a day where McCutchen wasn't in the lineup the Pirates needed someone to pick up that slack and Walker did exactly that. Good on him and since the All-Star break he is hitting .327 which is pretty great.
Marte had two hits and walked two times. This is big news. Not that he had two hits but that he was somehow able to get on base twice via a walk. Granted, one of the walks was intentional but when he had 20 walks all season coming in when he can grab two of them in one game, a close game, that is pretty big news. He also stole his 33rd base of the season which is third in baseball right now.
The Pirates now fly off to Colorado and with the Marlins in town a lot of people felt as if a sweep was a must. While I wouldn't go that far it wasn't out of the realm of possibility for the Pirates to get three wins against a team that isn't very good in most aspects. This capped off a 9-2 home stand against the Cardinals, Rockies, and Marlins. That is some pretty good stuff right there no matter how you slice it.