What a difference a day can make. The Pirates came out and hit early and often, putting up a four-spot on the Astros in the 1st inning and then Ivan Nova dominated the rest of the way to snap the Pirates four-game losing streak.
Nova fired his first complete game since 2013 in just 98 pitches. He took a shutout into the 9th inning with a chance for a Maddux (CGSO in less than 100 pitches), but back-to-back doubles by Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve ended that bid. Nova was masterful though, allowing just six hits, one run, one walk while striking out six Astros. He induced an impressive 15 groundball outs and just one fly ball. Is Ivan Nova the JA Happ part II? We’ll see, but so far so good. Nova’s complete game was the Pirates third of the season.
Once again, pitching was not the problem and tonight, neither were the bats. The Bucs jumped all over Astros rookie Joe Musgrove for four runs in the first inning, including six straight hits to start the game. The Pirates recorded five hits as a team on Monday and they blew that number away in the first inning tonight. With a 4-0 lead, Gregory Polanco belted a couple solo home runs for his team-leading 18th and 19th blasts of the season.
After being swept by the Marlins last weekend, the Pirates have a great opportunity to rebound with a series win over the Astros Wednesday afternoon with Gerrit Cole on the mound. Cole starts opposite Astros righty Collin McHugh who has struggled this year with a 4.99 ERA.