This was a good baseball game from the Pirates. They got good pitching from both Francisco Liriano and the bullpen and they got some timely hitting off of one of the best closers in the game when the game was tied in the ninth inning. They beat the Brewers for only the second time this season in nine tries and they did so in a place where they have had some horrible luck. This was a good win and saying 'Raise it' on Twitter was a lot of fun.
Liriano hasn't been overly good this season. Sure, the home opener was good with the 12 (or however many) strikeouts he had but he still hasn't looked overly good in any facet. Much like the rest of the pitching staff it seems to be that he toys with that line and then one inning gets the best of him. Last night was probably his best start of the season. He went six innings (on 87 pitches) and gave up only one run on four hits and struck out seven. His slider was filthy last night and while he was able to get the seining strikeouts on that the first time through he got it on the change up the next time through the lineup. When he can get both of those pitches working he is a tough pitcher to face. He averaged just better than 93 with his fastball and got 19 swings and misses. That is some good stuff.
The bottom of the lineup has been hitting the ball pretty well recently and they are actually the ones that won the game for the Pirates last night. Going into the ninth inning the game was all tied at one and Francisco Rodriguez was coming in. He had given up one run on nine hits for the entire season coming in (21 innings). The Pirates got three runs on four hits off him. Just great stuff.
With one out Ike Davis singled to right followed by a single up the middle by Jordy Mercer. Both of those guys have been pretty on fire in the month of May and it can't come any sooner. Not that Davis has been bad but with how the Pirates were struggling to get anything from the big portion of the platoon I think his production this month is what we probably could have expected out of Travis Ishikawa for an entire year. Mercer was bound to breakout. I mean I am not as high on him as many but there is no way that he was as bad as he was playing.
Anyways, after those hits Clint Hurdle made an interesting decision. Gaby Sanchez had already been used earlier in the game as a pinch hitter so there was no first baseman left on the roster. Hurdle sent out Clint Barmes to run for Davis, therefore making Barmes the first baseman. I am not sure if I make that move but it worked out. Props to Hurdle here for making that call.
Chris Stewart has been doing a bit more of the catching recently because of Hurdle's "gut" so he came up with a chance to get the win and all he did was take an outside fastball and lace it back up the middle. Barmes scored in time (where Davis probably wouldn't have) and the Pirates had the lead. Starling Marte, playing as a replacement, then doubled to deep center to score Mercer and Stewart and that was all she wrote.
The Marte situation is weird. Before last night he hadn't played since Sunday and before the game Hurdle said that Marte tried hitting off the tee and it "didn't go well". So in my eyes the Pirates were keeping a player on the bench to not play and essentially playing down a man. I thought for sure with that news that Marte was going to be DL'd and I was going to be pissed when the Pirates waited 12 days to put him on the 15 day DL. I am not sure what happened between earlier in the day and his at bats but that double was huge and I assume this means that he is ready to return to action.
A real balanced offensive attack from the Pirates. They had 11 hits and every single starter besides Jose Tabata (including Liriano) had at least one hit. Actually Pedro Alvarez and Davis were the only two Pirates with two hits. While Tabata didn't have a hit he is seining the bat just as well as Davis and Mercer so when I say that he didn't have a hit I wouldn't take that as him having a bad day at the plate.
Some games you are going to have one or two guys win you the ballgame. Some games you are going to get everyone into the act. The Pirates were the latter there and it was good to see.