Tonight’s game ended with about the same results as last night’s, but with a little more flare and excitement. The hit parade out once again, and a very strong showing from the arms help take the sixth straight victory for the Pirates.
Francisco Liriano‘s strong start helped pace this team as he cruised through 6.2 innings tonight. Frankie’s outing was definitely the best he has had since that magnificent opening day start. His control was spot on as he didn’t allow a walk to any batter tonight. Before tonights game, his season best was three walks which was recorded during his last outing. In those 6.2 innings, Liriano also only allowed five hits while striking out six.
The scoring started from Alfredo Simon‘s very first pitch. John Jaso took Simon’s fastball 394 feet over the wall the give the Bucco’s a 1-0 lead. In typical fashion, the Pirates were putting runners on in bunches and leaving a good amount stranded which kept the scoring in check. They wouldn’t see any more runs until the 5th when Francisco Cervelli blooped an RBI single in front of Billy Hamilton. Josh Harrison would then sacrifice fly to Jay Bruce which in turn scored Starling Marte to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
After Simon was taken out of the game, Sean Rodriguez hit a 2 run shot in the bottom of the 8th to seal the Pirates victory. S Rod continued his red hot season by hitting his fourth homer and batting in his 13th runner in just 30 at bats. The score was set up by a Matt Joyce single, who himself has been very hot also. Between these two bench players, they are hitting .357 with seven home runs and 22 RBI’s in just 59 at bats. For a quick comparison, the entire Atlanta Braves team is hitting .229 with five home runs and 74 RBI’s.
The conditions were not ideal tonight as it was raining throughout the entire game. Andrew McCutchen seemed to get shaken up in the 7th when he ran back to snag a fly ball hit by Tucker Barnhart. Liriano gave him a great pitch, which he made an even better hit, and then Cutch took off on his horse to make an incredible out that forced him to slide down on his knee. He laid on the ground for a moment and then gingerly got to his feet. He seemed to favor it for awhile, but did manage to stay in the game.
Starling Marte also gave quite a few scared of his own throughout the game. In the 5th inning, Marte was struck in the same hand he took a HBP just a few weeks ago. Like he did then, he clutched it for a good moment and stayed in the game escaping a broken finger. Later in the 7th, he would foul a pitch off of his shin/high ankle area and walk very gingerly to the dugout after he was thrown out at first. As if this wasn’t enough to make you nervous, he stayed in the game and found himself taking ANOTHER hit by pitch in the 8th. This time, Tony Cingrani would catch his shoulder, but Marte did not appear to be in much pain.
After Liriano did his job on the mound today, the bullpen was able to secure the victory by not allowing a run. Neftali Feliz, Tony Watson, and A.J. Schugel worked to a total of 2 innings allowing just one hit and two walks, while Mark Melancon finished the game earning another one out save.
Though they came four runs short from breaking the team’s April record for most runs during the month, their 15 wins did manage to earn the most wins for April in franchise history. The team is now 15-9 and three games back from the Cubs. They also currently hold the second Wild Card spot behind the Mets. It’s been a very solid start to the season for Pittsburgh and it appears that their pitching is starting to put it all together.
Tomorrow, Pittsburgh will wrap up their series against Cincinnati at 1:35 PM. Jeff Locke will take the mound against Tim Adleman. Raisel Iglesias was scheduled to start, but will miss his turn due to a ‘pinch’ in his right shoulder today.