Finally after talking somebody up, they followed through with it. As the NSN hyped up Jeff Locke in the preview today, Locke came through for the Bucco’s with a very efficient start to help the Pirates defeat the Angels by a score of 8-7.
Locke gave up a first inning home run to Kole Calhoun, but settled nicely yesterday afternoon to give the Bucco’s a chance to win. Locke would go on to pitch 7 innings allowing three earned runs on seven hits and no walks. What has been impressive with Locke’s pitching lately is the fact that he hasn’t given up a walk in the last 20.1 innings. Whether it’s come from the infamous delivery change he worked on this spring or some extra work with Ray Searage, Locke has been pounding the strike zone this year and been the second most effective pitcher on the team behind Gerrit Cole.
Not so effective was Tony Watson. Coming into the 8th innings for relief with a 5 run lead, Watson gave up four earned runs while recording just one out. He allowed three hits and two walks. This was his second game in a row where he allowed a run after he went over a month and 11 games without allowing a run. As a matter of fact, he only even allowed just one hit in the month of May. As these past two games seen his ERA balloon from 2.08 to now a 3.91, I wouldn’t worry too much about TWat.
After Watson’s implosion, Neftali Feliz entered the game to close out the inning effectively allowing just a hit. Feliz has been a wonderful signing this year as he has pitched 20 innings with a 2.66 ERA while giving up just a mere 12 hits to three walks. That is good for an amazing 0.738 WHIP.
Then, as usual, Mark Melancon entered the game to pick up the save and did so as we all have come to accept when he pitches in the ninth. Melancon threw a shutout inning which lowered his ERA to a 1.93 and earned him his 17th save on the season, good for third most in all of baseball. What is fascinating about Mark is the fact that the Pirates have won 68 consecutive games when he has come in for the save opportunity. Sure, he has blown a couple in there, three to be exact, but even in those games the Pirates were able to pull out the victory.
The Pirates were able to come from behind and give themselves a large lead after the 7th inning. During the 2nd innings while trailing 1-0, Starling Marte belted a double off of the very top of the outfield wall which Jung Ho Kang cashed in by hitting his second home run in as many days, this time traveling 413 feet. Then in the 7th innings while tied 3-3, Gregory Polanco would send his ninth home run 451 feet over the right field seats to bring the score 4-3. Pittsburgh wouldn’t be done yet, however, as Matt Joyce would pinch hit for Locke and hit a homer of his own that drove in Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.
Joyce’s home run would go 439 feet over center field and give him his sixth home run in just 69 at bats. Matt Joyce was picked up during the offseason on a minor league deal and is currently slashing .333/.465/.681/.1.146. He is now also tied for second most pinch hit home runs in Pirates history with four, and it is just June 4th.
The Angels would bring some offense, too. With Watson pitching, Yunel Escobar would drive in Shane Robinson on a line drive single hit over Andrew McCutchen. Kole Calhoun would then send in Escobar on a single to Cutch. With two on, Johnny Giavotella grounded into a force out but scored Calhoun from third. Finally, Carlos Perez would double in Giavotella and the Angels would claw back to make it an 8-7 ball game, but would not be good enough to get the victory.
Some of the stars in today’s game were Starling Marte and Josh Harrison. Each collected three hits while Marte also had a triple and a double to his line. Over the past two games, Marte has six hits with four going for extra bases. He has been one of the best bats on this team for the season and looks to be heating up even more. With today’s double, he is currently tied with Gregory Polanco for the most doubles in the N.L. Also, as he seems to do every time he is on first, Marte collected his 18th stolen base, good for 2nd in all of baseball.