Apr. 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Justin Wilson (37) throws during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Week 2 Review

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Wow, what a difference a week can make for a team and their fan base! Last week, the Pirates looked like one of the worst teams in the league, with by far the worst offense. There were constant tweets and comments of fans (forgive the pun) jumping ship and abandoning all hope. However, after taking the series in Arizona and sweeping the hated Reds at home, the Pirates look like contenders. Their offense is finally starting to catch on, and Bucco Nation is in full swing (another terrible pun).

Here is the weekly rundown:

Pittsburgh Pirates Week 2: (5-2)

The Good:

April 12, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) and center fielder Andrew McCutchen (center) and Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata (31) celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The hitting drastically improved this week, and so did the record. The Pirates were able to get back to .500 baseball and second place in the NL Central. Pittsburgh’s team batting average jumped over the Mendoza Line and reached .209. By no means great, but still a vast improvement. Marte and McCutchen combined for 3 homers, 11 RBI, and 11 runs. The dynamic duo is carrying the offense and making some great plays in the outfield.

The Bad:

Apr. 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (51) stretches during an injury delay in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Stud pitcher Wandy Rodriguez  left Monday’s game after tightness in his hamstring. Rodriguez attempted to stretch it out, but was unsuccessful and left the game after only 2 innings. Wandy was not able to make his scheduled start vs. the Reds on Sunday but is expected to go on Friday against the Braves.

The Ugly: 

Apr. 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jonathan Sanchez throws in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In his second outing, Jonathon Sanchez was hit hard and often. Sanchez had a very nice first game against the Dodgers but was tagged with the loss. In Arizona, Sanchez was belted around. He gave up 8 hits, 4 walks, 2 home runs, and 9 earned runs in only 3.1 innings pitched. Sanchez did slightly redeem himself by earning a key walk in Sunday’s game against the Reds to keep an 8th inning rally going. Sanchez pinch-hit for Jared Hughes, got a free pass on 5 pitches from Jonathon Broxton, and later scored on a sac-fly by Garrett Jones.

The Best: The Pirates were able to sweep the Cincinnati Reds to cap off the week. The Pirates did so in dramatic fashion, including overcoming a blown 4-run lead and a 5-run deficit.

In game one, Andrew McCutchen responded to Brandon Phillips’s second home run of the game to retake the lead. Not to toot my own horn, but I can’t help but take some credit by calling it:


Melancon pitched a perfect 8th and Grilli nailed down his 4th save of the year.

In game 2, the Pirates jumped on the Reds’ bullpen after Johnny Cueto left the game with an injury and beat Cincinnati 3-1. Jeff Locke earned his first win of the season, throwing 5 innings and allowing  just 1 run.

April 14, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) greets Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Michael McKenry (19) at home plate after McKenry hit a two run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 of the series was by far the most dramatic. The Pirates were all but shut down going into the 7th inning losing 5-0. A Michael McKenry home run chased Mat Latos and once again, the Pirates were able to jump on the Reds’ bullpen. A hit parade scored three more runs and drew the Pirates within one. Jared Hughes gave up another run in the top of the 8th making it 6-4. However, after an El Toro walk, The Fort blasted his second homer of the game to left field and tied it up. This was the first multi-homer  game in McKenry’s career. The timing could not have been better. Two batters later, Starling Marte broke the tie and capped off the comeback with his own 2-run shot to left. The Pirates ended up winning the game 10-7 and moved into sole possession of 2ndplace in the Central.

Top Hitter:

April 14, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) hits a two run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This one is pretty much a no-brainer.  Marte was red-hot all week and put up 6 multi-hit games. He has an 8-game hit streak that we all hope will continue through next series against St. Louis. This week Marte hit 2 doubles, a triple, and a clutch go-ahead home run in the 8th inning vs. the Reds. Marte had 6 RBI and hit for a .440 average.

Top Pitcher:

There are couple ways I could have gone here, but for this week’s top pitcher I am going with Justin Wilson. Wilson came in after Wandy’s early departure and a shaky outing by Jeanmar Gomez. While Gomez got the win, Wilson pitched 3 outstanding innings for the hold and helped get the ball to Melancon and Grilli. Wilson also pitched 1.2 innings in the 3-1 victory over the Reds on Saturday. Wilson struck out 4 in his 4.2 innings and held opposing teams to 3 hits and 0 runs.

Next Week: The Pirates sit one game back in the NL Central to St. Louis. Pittsburgh starts the week off by hosting the first-place Cardinals. The Bucs then play the hottest team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves, in a 4-game set.

Projected Starters:

Mon, April 16:  McDonald (1-1)-Lynn (1-0)

Tues, April 17: Sanchez (0-2)-Westbrook (1-0)

Wed, April 18: Burnett (0-2)-Miller (2-0)

Fri, April 19: Locke (1-1)-Teheran (0-0)

Sat, April 20: Rodriguez (1-0)-Hudson (2-0)

Sun, April 21: McDonald (1-1)-Maholm (3-0)

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