The Pirates needed a strong start from Charlie Morton on Monday night as the pitching staff is in a state of disarray. The Pirates starting pitchers, a strength for the team last season, has been floundering all season.
Recently the ace of the staff, Gerrit Cole, was added to the 15-day disabled list. Last year’s ace, Francisco Liriano has been a shell of himself from last season and Edinson Volquez has struggled to pitch more than five innings all season. After the Wandy Rodriguez era officially ended the Pirates have gotten uncertain production from Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton, both of whom have had their struggles this season.
Charlie Morton has to be the veteran leader of this pitching staff. He has to provide some consistency and be reliable in order for the Pirates to not fall too far off track while they wait for Cole to return from his injury.
He provided the Pirates with seven innings of one-run baseball against a horrifyingly terrible Chicago Cubs lineup. The Cubs lineup does not feature a single player with a batting average above .276. That is not to boast that the Pirates lineup is that much better but it is much more competitive of late compared to a prospect-laden Cubs lineup.
This was the exact showing the Pirates needed from Morton who earned his third win of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.14. This is the kind of performance that has to make Pirates fans smile and think that he could be turning his season around. What was key tonight in the gem that Morton threw was that often times he surrendered a hit or two to start the inning or got a bad break but did not implode. This season especially, Morton seems to be easily rattled by allowing a hit or two and proceeds to quickly lose his confidence.
Not tonight, Not this Morton, he remained calm and while he surrendere
d six hits, he only allowed one run.
The Pirates offense attacked Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva throughout the evening. They were led by home runs from Andrew McCutchen and Ike Davis as well as quality hitting from Pedro Alvarez, Travis Snider and Starling Marte as they racked up 10 hits altogether.
The Pirates take on the Cubs again Tuesday evening in the much anticipated major league debut of top prospect Gregory Polanco. Francisco Liraiano takes the hill tomorrow to face Travis Wood in a matchup of two struggling, veteran pitchers. If you want to get to PNC Park to see the debut of Polanco, ticket prices are escalating quickly. For those of you not fortunate enough to get a ticket to the game, it will be telecasted as usual on Root Sports at 7:00 p.m.