Last night’s game was not only an emotional one for Trevor Williams and Tony Watson, but it snapped the Pirates eight-game losing streak in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Even after losing the first two games of the series in the fashion they did, the Pirates found a way to avoid a sweep and stop the bleeding.
I’m not going to talk about the wildcard picture and where the Pirates currently stand. It’s talked about too much. At this point, just win games and if you get back into it, great. If not, oh well. I really don’t think this team is going anywhere this season even if they made the playoffs. I’m more interested in seeing how some of the young guys—Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Williams perform down the stretch. I think right now it’s asinine to not start Frazier and Bell each game.
Anyway, Williams made his debut last night and tossed an impressive three innings of work with three strikeouts, one walk and just one unearned run allowed thanks to a two-base error by Frazier. Williams posted a 2.42 ERA in the minors this season and he handled his own last night in picking up the win. He had an emotional moment with his father following the game where he hugged him and presented him with the game ball from his first ML win. I wouldn’t mind seeing Williams get a start or two before the end of the season.
Then with a one-run lead in the 9th inning, stubborn Clint Hurdle went back to Tony Watson to close the game following his horrific outing Tuesday night that can only be summed up as “The Tony Watson game.” Hurdle stuck with his guy and Watson came through with a 1-2-3 inning to nail down his 11th save.
The Pirates grabbed the lead in the 8th inning thanks to Jung Ho Kang‘s solo home run off Cardinals rookie prospect Alex Reyes for his 17th blast of the season. Kang is displaying an elite level of power in limited time this season. In 2015, Kang hit 15 home runs in 421 at-bats, a rate of one HR/28.1 ABs. This season, Kang has belted 17 home runs in 245 at-bats, a rate of one HR/14.4 ABs. To put that into perspective over a course of a full season of 600 at-bats, Kang is on about a 42 HR pace. Obviously he’s struggled at times this year and missed time due to injuries, but it’s worth a debate that Kang might have the best power on the active roster.
The Pirates will finish off their second-to-last homestand of the year by welcoming the Reds to town for four games before heading on a three-city, 11-game roadtrip to Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. That’s 15 games against teams with losing records. If this team is ever going to make a run, now would be the time.