The Pittsburgh Pirates offense remained hot for the second straight game, but the team still fell 8-5 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night in the series opener. Francisco Liriano game up six runs (five earned) on six hits, including two home runs, over 6.1 innings pitched, which was enough damage to sink the Pirates. Michael Wacha opposed Liriano on the mound and gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits over six innings pitched and earned his fifth win of the season.
Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Francisco Cervelli each had multi-hit games, yet no player in the lineup got on base via the walk, a recurring problem for this team. In total, the Pirates outhit the Cardinals 12-11 but left seven runners on base, while the Cardinals only left five on base. Francisco Liriano struck out a season-high ten batters on the day and only walked one, which was one positive from his outing.
The Pirates opened up the scoring in the first inning when Marte drilled a line drive down the third base line, scoring Gregory Polanco from third. The hit was later ruled an error on third baseman Pete Kozma. However, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday both hit home runs in the second, putting the Cardinals up 4-1. St. Louis would not relinquish the lead again. Kolten Wong added a three-run home run in the seventh, and his and Holliday’s three-run home runs were enough alone to beat the Pirates on Friday.
What Stood Out
While the Pirates did lose in the series opener, there were some positives that could be taken away from the game. The offense surged for the second straight day, and with the Pirates’ pitching this season, five runs is normally enough to beat a team. Andrew McCutchen was 2-5, raising his average from .210 to .219 over one game. In the past two games, McCutchen has gone from 5-9 and has raised his average 31 points from .188 to .219. That’s one reason Pirates’ fans may not want to panic about McCutchen just yet; it’s still early. Marte was 3-4 with an RBI, raising his season total to a team-leading 21 RBIs.
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Jung Ho Kang came in to replace Jordy Mercer at shortstop in the top of the seventh and singled in the bottom of the inning, raising his season average to .300. He finished 1-2 on the night. Kang figures to see more starts as the season progresses. The case for Kang was made stronger by Josh Harrison‘s poor play again Friday night. He did manage a hit, finishing 1-4 on the day, but he made an error in the field that cost the team multiple runs. He also didn’t reach a line drive down the line at third that was a make-able play and had a ball that was hit to him bounce off his glove later in the game, but he managed to recover and throw out the runner at first.
The series is set to continue at 7:05 PM Saturday night at PNC Park. Vance Worley (2-2, 3.90 ERA) takes the hill for the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-16), coming off an outing in which he gave up only one run over six innings pitched against the Cardinals back on May 3rd. Carlos Martinez (3-0, 3.64 ERA) takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals (22-7) as the team hopes to take the series.