This is a big late (real late) but I figured something is better than nothing. Well, something is going to be pretty short and sweet. The Pirates jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning of play and it looked as if they were going to run Edwin Jackson off the field before he got to the third inning. The problem was that the Pirates didn't throw the knockout punch and Jackson somewhat settled in and let Starlin Castro single handedly get the Cubs back into the game.
Castro hit two home runs on the night and both of those came off Charlie Morton. That is actually pretty surprising seeing that Morton only gave up three home runs all of last season to right handed batters and Castro, who has been pretty awful so far this season, got two of them.
Those two home runs accounted for four of the five runs that Morton gave up. Morton didn't have a strong outing but thanks to the Pirates offense (!!!) he was able to slide by. He gave up eight hits and while his sinker seemed to be moving it seemed like he was having a lot of problems locating it well. The Cubs were able to square up some good pitches but Castro's second home run was a hanger and the pitch before he swung through was a hanger. It wasn't hist best outing but the Pirates won.
The offense came out and slugged 11 hits and scored seven runs. Anyone that batted in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth batting position had a pair of hits and the early damage really gave them some breathing room. The best thing though was in the first inning when the Cubs decided to give Andrew McCutchen the unintentional intentional walk that Pedro Alvarez came up and roped a ball into the gap scoring two runs. If McCutchen is going to get walked every other time at bat then things like that need to happen. If Alvarez can protect McCutchen then he is going to get more pitches to hit and that will most likely turn into rockets back up the middle like the ball that almost took off Jackson's head in the second inning.
You know what is fun to see? Alvarez's walk rate of 18.8% is higher than his strikeout rate of 15.6%. I talk a lot about small sample size and all-in-all this doesn't tell us a bunch but Alvarez has been having some really good plate appearances so far. He is laying off a lot of pitches he would swing at in the past and while his average isn't anything to celebrate he is putting good swings on the ball and even taking a lot of balls the opposite way. Hopefully this continues.
Starling Marte is sort of in the same situation. He walked twice last night and now has five walks already this year. Last regular season he had 25. That is starting to become significant. Still a small sample size issues and still strikes out a little too much but this is a good trend.