The Pirates really needed to win this game on Monday. They were facing Alex Cobb who hasn't been overly good this year before facing Chris Archer and David Price. Not winning this game would have put the Pirates behind the eight ball in some unfavorable pitching match ups and while the pitchers have been lights out for the Pirates you can't really count on the trio of Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke, and Vance Worley forever. Last night Edison Volquez gave them another solid start and went eight innings giving up only one run and five hits. You know, the normal.
Volquez was a huge question mark going into the season and besides a small rough patch he's been exactly what the Pirates have needed this year. Last night he only struck out one hitter but the Rays got no hard contact and induced three double plays and threw 68 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He just keeps impressing me and while the Pirates offense did more than enough Volquez made sure that the bullpen wasn't going to let this one go away and that the Pirates could cruise to victory.
The Pirates offense continued to rake as they had 10 hits to go along with four walks and they scored eight runs over four different innings. They scored two runs in the first inning and then four more in the third inning to really put this game away before anything could get interesting. Every hitter in the lineup had at least one hit except for Ike Davis who drove in a run with a groundout in the first inning. So every hitter got a piece of the pie and that is exactly what you like to see from the offense.
Pedor Alvarez homered for the first time since June 3 in the third inning with a massive three run bomb. Cobb gave up a run scoring single to Andrew McCutchen before getting a pair of outs. He then walked Josh Harrison on four straight pitches and the first pitch to Alvarez went 426 feet to center field. He tried a get-me-over fastball that ended up going middle-middle at 90 mph and Alvarez did exactly what you expect him to do to a pitch like that. Alvarez has been hitting a lot better than a lot of people have been giving him credit for but the lack of power has somewhat been confusing. If he can start putting balls into the gap and over the fence while keeping the type of approach he's had over the month of June then he's going to be scary dangerous for any pitcher to face.
Really the story of the game today was Volquez. I know I talked about him a good before earlier but getting him to go eight innings was just huge. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon were both unavailable last night and when your two best relievers can't go you need to get some innings from your starter. Volquez did that. The Pirates starters have had a really tough time getting deep into games but over the past week they have been getting through seven innings which is a sight for sore eyes if you are a Pirates fan. Just great stuff.
The Pirates go against Archer tonight and if you don't think I want the Pirates to trade for him just so I can make unlimited Archer references then you don't know anything.