Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher Charlie Morton showed why he was immediately inserted into the rotation during his debut on Memorial Day. Taking the ball for the first time in 2015, Morton induced 18 groundball outs and did not walk a single batter. While he did give up eight hits over seven innings, the only damage came from the powerful Giancarlo Stanton who singled in the not-so-powerful Dee Gordon in the first inning and added a solo home run to right field in the third inning. Morton did look a little shaky to begin the contest, but he settled down and threw a tremendous game after that.
While the offensive barrage of the last few days came to an end, the Pittsburgh Pirates were still able to score enough runs to get Morton a win in his first start of the season. The top three hitters went 0 for 7 with just one walk, but the middle of the order took care of the offensive production on Monday night.
The Pirates got on the board in the second inning when Francisco Cervelli hit his first home run of the season, an three-run opposite field shot over the Clemente Wall. It appeared that the Pirates were going to be able to add another run or two that inning when Josh Harrison blasted a ball to right field. Stanton had other ideas and made a very impressive catch as he crashed into the fence in front of the scoreboard.
Pedro Alvarez showed Stanton that he, too, can hit home runs to the opposite field, taking a David Phelps pitch into the left field seats. The umpires elected to review the home run since it was questionable whether a fan reached over and grabbed it. The review showed that it did indeed clear the fence and the home run stood. The most impressive part of the home run was not that Alvarez took it to left field, but the trajectory of the ball. Alvarez essentially hit a line drive that rose just enough to clear the fence.
What Stood Out
As stated above, Morton was the star tonight. He depends on inducing groundballs with his sinker and he did just that. With a strong infield behind him that can handle such a large number of groundballs, Morton could be in line for a very good season if he is able to stay healthy. There were times where he was a little wild and we need to remember that he did plunk 19 batters last season. But all in all it was a very impressive start to his 2015 season.
Another thing that stood out was Cervelli. While he did hit his first home run of the year, he has also very quietly hit .316 so far this season. He continues to display the type of patience at the plate that has led him to a .381 OBP. He may not be able to replicate the production the Pirates got from Russell Martin behind the plate last year, but if he keeps this up he will be a serviceable replacement.
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Game two of the three-game series against the Marlins begins Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Jeff Locke will go for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while RHP Jose Urena will go for the Miami Marlins, the team announced after Monday night’s game. The 23-year-old Urena has only see three innings of major league ball in his career, all coming this season, in which he’s given up four runs (three earned). Locke looks to continue the winning ways in Pittsburgh as the Pirates hope to gain ground on the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central.