The talk this spring was the Pirates wanting to start fast this year and avoid a slow start in April. Well, how about sweeping the Cardinals to start the season? That’s exactly what they did tonight behind Juan Nicasio‘s brilliant debut in a Pirates uniform.
That’s a statement series to open the season in my opinion.
Nicasio picked up right where he left off this spring, striking out batters left and right and putting up zeros on the scoreboard. He had the Cardinals guessing all night, striking out seven batters in 6.0 innings while allowing just two hits and one run on solo home run to some guy named Jeremy Hazelbaker. We weren’t sure what to expect from Nicasio as spring training stats are just spring training stats, but after mowing down the Cards tonight, this pickup may be an incredible find.
As for the bats, the Pirates worked Cards starter Mike Leake hard early in the bottom of the 1st inning. Leake walked in a run for one of Polanco’s three walks tonight in midst of a 40+ pitch inning for Leake. The Bucs added on in the fifth when John Jaso tripled and scored on a throwing error (the ol’ little league inside the park HR). Then following Freese and Marte back-to-back singles, Cervelli crushed a double down the left field line to score two runs to make it 4-0. The Bucs added another run in the sixth off Sean Rodriguez‘s RBI double. S-Rod is looking like a solid bat to have on the bench and to sub in late in the game with his versatility.
I’m not sure if it was the Pirates looking so good this series or a little bit of both, but the Cardinals looked old, bad and maybe finally out of their magical pixie dust. Carpenter is hitting .091, Piscotty .182, Holliday .100, Grichuk .100 and Moss .125. I don’t have to tell you how awful that is and rare to see from this team, but it’s something I could definitely get used to. And the pitching, which is always the Cards saving grace, was not there this series. Wainwright, Wacha and Leake are all pitchers with good numbers against the Bucs in their careers, but not this week. Not against this team. The undefeated Pirates are cruising and head to Cincinnati Friday after an off day tomorrow.