It’s like the old saying goes—If Jeff Locke throws a complete game shutout during Game 1 of the Pens Stanley Cup Final, did it really happen? Well there’s video to prove this one at least.
In his 101st start of his career with the Bucs, Locke fired his first CGSO of his career and did it with just one strikeout and no walks. Not only are complete game shutouts rare in today’s MLB, but doing it with just one strikeout is rare. Locke’s the first pitcher to toss a 9-inning shutout with one strikeout and no walks in six years, since Dallas Braden and former Bucco Paul Maholm did it back in 2010. Actually, it’s only happened 12 times since 1990. It was also the Pirates first CGSO since Vance Worley mowed the Giants down in 2014.
Locke did it with a good mix of his fastball and changeup. The Marlins hit nothing hard off him all night, with their three hits all being singles. He induced 15 ground ball outs and 12 fastball outs and only faced 28 hitters thanks to two double plays.
The question for Locke is if this is a blip of the radar or a sign of things to come? Despite the yinzers take on Locke (“he sucks!”), he actually hasn’t been that bad at all this season. He’s pitched at least six innings in 7-out-of-10 starts now and has lowered his ERA to 4.33. Throw out his worst start of the season in San Diego and he has an ERA well under four. And again, he’s a 4 or 5 starter capable of this kind of performance? A lot of teams would take him.
As for the Pirates offense, they were on fire again. Another 14 hits for this team, couple home runs and a fat number of runs with 10. Gregory Polanco continued his torrid pace with a grand slam home run, his 8th blast of the year and first career grand slam. Sean Rodriguez belted his 6th home run of the season and David Freese recorded four hits and two RBIs as it seems like everyone gets in on the action each night. What a bench with Joyce, Rodriguez and Freese on it as depth.