After three games, and the better part of a week, of bad offense today was just what the Pirates needed. By just what they needed I mean a 10 run, 14 hit outburst that saw five different players have more than one hit with Andrew McCutchen as the only starting position player that didn't have a hit. Imagine that. The hit parade after the bad week might overshadow maybe the most important part of the game which was Gerrit Cole just going out and shutting down the Padres with 12 strikeouts in six innings of work. I think this kid is figuring it out.
The month of September has been really good to Mr. Cole as he now has 45 strikeouts in 32 innings of work and per Matt Bandi of Pirates Prospects he hasn't given up a run after the first inning in the entire month. Seriously, after today's outing he's given up four runs and all of those runs came in the first inning of games. He is starting to look like he is getting comfortable and the coaching staff is starting to let him throw his secondary pitches with more frequency and that has led to him making hitters look like they don't even belong on the same field as him. He did walk three hitters but he only gave up four hits which has been a little bit of a problem for him so far in his young career. A lot of people are worrying about the rotation if Francisco Liriano has to pitch a Wild Card game but with Charlie Morton and Cole pitching so well I think they can easily bridge that gap if it comes to that with a Wild Card game.
The other story is obviously the hits. It didn't start out so hot for the Pirates but they were able to scratch home a run in the first innings. Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch to lead the game off and then came home on a fielders choice ground ou from McCtuchen. That actually tied the game after the Padres scored in the top of the first inning but getting back to even was huge after how the last few nights have gone.
The Pirates put this game away in the fourth inning. Facing Ian Kennedy they scored five runs on five hits and scored three of those runs with two outs. I think most would have been fine with taking the 3-1 lead after Cole struck out to make it two outs but Tabata doubled off the wall in right and then Neil Walker hit his 11th home run over the wall in right. It felt really good to see that.
The Pirates got two more in the seventh and that was just icing on the cake. A good cake.
Walker had four hits on the day and hopefully this means he is going on one of his hot streaks. He isn't the best hitter but rather a streak hitter and while the lows can be really low the highs can be just as high. Today was a taste of what it is like when he gets hot and with a huge series coming up against the Reds and then another one next weekend this is exactly what the Pirates need to put a lot of pressure on a good Reds pitching staff.
Pedro Alvarez went big fly for the 34th time this season which puts him in a tie for first in the National League. He might not have overly improved as a hitter this year but man when he squares up a ball it goes really, really far.
I have said it before but if Jon Buck plays another game for the Pirates then Tony Sanchez would have to be near death. Sanchez got the start today and did a really nice job behind the plate defensively and added two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. Nothing might have been better than the play he made in the eighth inning. Here is a look at it:
That is a play in a game where the Pirates are up eight in the eighth inning and to be honest it didn't matter if he made the play or not. He did make the play and it looked like he got banged up even though he stayed in the game and that is what you like to see as a teammate and fan.
Sanchez should probably get some more playing time going forward as Russell Martin just looks a little run down at this point and the way Sanchez has handled the pitching staff and improved at the plate I wouldn't argue with him taking a few more games behind the dish.
All-in-all the series sucked but if you are going to lose the first three games of a series this is the way you want to finish it out. Pretty important series coming up this weekend at PNC Park.