What the Pirates needed to accomplish in these first two games was get two wins and give themselves a chance to sweep the leg on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates did just that. Chris Archer has been pretty good all season but the Pirates touched him up for five runs and the Tampa Bay offense did nothing against Jeff Locke and the Pirates are a game above .500. So, you know, the usual.
Locke gave the Pirates yet another good start and went 7.1 innings, giving up three runs, eight hits, and two walks. He threw 69 of his 104 pitches for strikes and even though his line doesn't look that great he was in control of the Rays lineup the entire night. Locke got the help of two more double plays and allowed only one run through seven innings before giving up a two run shot to Evan Longoria in the eighth inning. I talked about it the last couple of recaps but the Pirates have had a tough time getting starters deep into games but the starting staff has done a great job of getting into the seventh inning recently and it has helped this fragile bullpen get a breath.
The Pirates offense went to work tonight against a pretty good pitcher who has been pretty lights out recently. In his last seven starts (arbitrary endpoints, I know) Archer had a 0.89 ERA and that includes a game where he went only three innings, giving up six runs. He held hitters to a .192 average and a .517 OPS. He was rock solid. The Pirates offense had seven hits and five runs off him in seven innings of work. This Pirates offense is pretty damn good and they got out in front and made sure the Rays didn't have a chance from the beginning. They sent eight men to the plate in the third inning to score three runs and then added some insurance later in the game. When you are scoring runs like the Pirates are you are going to win a lot of games and that is what they are doing.
Some bigger news tonight was that Starling Marte had to leave the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. He attempted to steal second base and had the front of his face hit by a knee of the player covering the bag (not sure who was covering). At first I just through it was Marte checking his face to make sure he didn't break his nose but I think it is a little more serious than that. When Marte stood up be couldn't keep his balance and had to be helped off the field by two trainers. Not good. He left the game with concussion-like symptoms and I would be shocked if he wasn't on the DL tomorrow. I guess we know where Josh Harrison's playing time is coming from.
Besides that it was another good overall performance from the Pirates. Mark Melancon made it pretty interesting in the ninth inning but the offense got hits from all through the order and added on to the lead throughout the night. Turns out they needed those runs later in the game but again the offense and Locke won this game. That is a good thing to write and something I didn't think I would be saying at the beginning of the year.