Friday, August 29, 2014

Pirates Game 134 Recap - Pirates 2, Reds 1

This was a good old fashion pitchers duel. Edison Volquez and Mike Leake were going almost literally pitch for pitch with Volquez taking a no hitter into the seventh inning and Leake giving up only six hits and throwing 82 pitches in seven innings of work. The difference came when the bullpens came in and while Tony Watson surrendered a run in the top half of the eighth inning Jonathan Broxton allowed two Pirates runners to score in the bottom half of the inning and the Pirates got a huge win after it looked like they might not score a run through the first seven.

This might be the most interesting part of the night:

Josh Harrison tripled home Andrew Lambo to tie the game and scored on a Jose Tabata single to lead the offensive charge. That was on top of what were three or four really nice defensive plays and while I have never been a huge Harrison fan he has been one of the better players on the team this year. I am not going to say he is a team MVP because Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin are ahead of him (in my opinion) but it is safe to say that the Pirates aren't where they are now without Harrison. If anyone tells you they saw this coming from Harrison before the season they are lying but right now I think there is zero reason for him not to be the starting third baseman in 2015.

Volquez is another guy that has surprised. He's always had the tools but before the season I believe I said that I was going to have night terrors about him pitching. Now he is one of the top arms in the rotation and consistently giving the team great starts and chances to win. Not really sure you could ask for much more. David Manel talked about Volquez today and how his velocity is way up as the season goes on and his whole array of pitches have just gotten better. Right now the thing I think about is why the Pirates didn't give him a two year deal like they did to Francisco Liriano so they could try and bottle this magic for another season.

As I said before this was a really tight game. Volquez didn't give up a bunch of hits but a couple of walks really could have done him in. He walked Billy Hamilton in the sixth inning and after a steal and a throwing error Hamilton was at third with only one out. All Volquez did was get a strikeout and line out and the inning was over. In the seventh he gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and then got a double play and a groundout (after another walk) to end the inning. He was nearly perfect through five innings and then used some luck over the last two and it was all good. Exactly what the Pirates needed on a night where the opposing pitcher was getting it done.

The 2014 Pirates aren't as good in the standings as the 2013 team was but wins like tonight are exactly what the 2013 team did to get into the playoffs and win 90+ games. Earlier in the year the Pirates would have lost this game. The bullpens would have given up three runs and the offense would have just came up short. Tonight that wasn't the case. The Reds are not a good team so the Pirates need to at least get another series win. With Johny Cueto on the mound on Sunday the best thing the Pirates can do is win the game tomorrow and play with house money on Sunday. Things were bad there for a while post All-Star game but things are much better now. This is fun.

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