The momentum from the three-game sweep of the Cubs this weekend apparently does not carry over or work against the black magic Cardinals (4-9). Despite Ivan Nova‘s complete game, the Pirates fell 2-1 in the opening game of three-game set in St. Louis.
Nova was usual efficient self, but cruised through a couple innings and found himself with an eight-inning complete game in just 78 pitches. He allowed two runs, one on a home run by, who else, Kolten Wong in the 3rd inning and an RBI single in the 7th inning. Wong’s home run is his 7th against the Bucs and just the 29th of his career, so he has hit nearly a fourth of all his home runs against Pittsburgh. Nova’s CG loss was the first by a Pirates pitcher since Zach Duke on July 10, 2009. That was actually his second one of that ’09 season.
Nova allowed just five hits, struck out three and once again, walked zero. He’s yet to issue a free pass in 2017. He pounded the strike zone all night with 56 of his 78 pitches went for strikes.
As for the Pirates (6-7) offense, it could not get anything going against Lance Lynn. The Cards righthander went 7.0 innings, allowing just three hits, one walk and five strikeouts. The Pirates hit the ball well throughout the game, but a couple were right at defenders and others, the Cardinals made some stellar defensive plays. It just looked like one of those nights where nothing falls in.
The Pirates challenged in the top of the ninth inning as Gregory Polanco pinch-hit and drove in the Bucs first run of the game on an RBI double that scored Josh Bell. With Mercer up next with two outs and facing RHP Seung Hwan Oh, Hurdle elected to pinch hit John Jaso for Mercer. Jordy was 0-for-3 on the night and hitting .182 on the early season. Meanwhile, Jaso is still looking for his first hit of the season. Jaso grounded out on a 2-0 pitch to end the game. I liked the move and thought you have to PH for Mercer in that position. Forget the small sample numbers to start the year (not that either are hitting great), but Jaso has a career 124 wRC+ against RH compared to Jordy’s 75 wRC+. ‘Nuff said.
That at-bat wouldn’t have even mattered if the Bucs had hit earlier in the night, but this late-inning comeback was not to be this time around.
The Pirates played their shortest game so far of the season at 2:14, and I think this one may be tough to be time wise for a nine-inning game this year.