Pittsburgh Pirates series takeaways from sweep of Detroit

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Following a 3-3 home stand, the Pittsburgh Pirates took to the road for a brief three-game road trip in Detroit to take on the surprising (in a bad way) third place Tigers.

Game One: Gerrit Cole (11-3, 2.16 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (0-1, 6.17 ERA)

Result: Pirates win 5-4 (14 innings)

Winning Pitcher: Deolis Guerra (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Losing Pitcher: Tom Gorzelanny (1-2, 6.94 ERA)

  • What went right:
    • Gerrit Cole did what aces do following poor starts. He went 6.2 innings, allowed two runs on nine hits, and struck out six.
    • Chris Stewart continued to be productive in his starts. He went 3-7 with a run scored.
    • Neil Walker played the hero, getting the eventual game-winning hit while going 2-6 with an RBI and two walks.
    • Deolis Guerra was tremendous out of the bullpen, earning the win while going three innings, allowing no runs on three hits, and striking out three.
  • What went wrong:
    • Tony Watson was not able to do his job in a rare unsuccessful appearance. He allowed two hits and two runs on the game-tying home run by J.D. Martinez.
    • Pirate batters went 2-16 with runners in scoring position and left a season-high 19 men on base.
    • Gorkys Hernandez committed one of the worst base-running mistakes you will ever see. He misread a fly ball and instead of running to third, he went to run back to first base. When he realized his mistake, he ran back to third, but failed to touch second base, resulting in an out. It was inexcusable for a pro baseball player to make that mistake

Game Two: A.J. Burnett (6-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. Alfredo Simon (7-4, 3.57 ERA)

Result: Pirates win 9-3

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Burnett (7-3, 2.05 ERA)

Losing Pitcher: Alfredo Simon (7-5, 3.94 ERA)

  • What went right:
    • The offense exploded for nine runs on 21 hits, including four home runs.
    • Neil Walker lead the way with a huge game, going 4-6 with two home runs, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
    • Starling Marte had an equally impressive game, going 4-5 with a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.
    • A.J. Burnett did his usual Batman stuff. When the bullpen needed a rest after a long game, he provided it, going seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, and striking out four.

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  • What went wrong:
    • J.D. Martinez continued to be a thorn in the Pirates’ side, going 3-4 on the day.
    • James McCann went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
    • Josh Harrison committed his 12th error of the season at third base.
    • Jordy Mercer and Francisco Cervelli were both thrown out at second base trying to stretch singles into doubles.

Game Three: Francisco Liriano (4-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. Kyle Ryan (1-1, 4.56 ERA)

Result: Pirates win 8-4

Winning Pitcher: Francisco Liriano (5-6, 2.99 ERA)

Losing Pitcher: Kyle Ryan (1-2, 4.55 ERA)

Save: Mark Melancon (25, 1.66 ERA)

  • What went right:
    • Francisco Liriano kept the Tigers’ offense in check, going seven innings, allowing no runs on five hits and striking out five.
    • Real Deal Neil Walker had another tremendous game, going 4-5 with three RBIs.
    • Francisco Cevelli continued his push to be a National League All Star, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
    • Andrew McCutchen also continued to prove why he should be a starting outfielder for the NL All Star Team, going 1-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
  • What went wrong:
    • Antonio Bastardo had his worst outing in a month, lasting only two-thirds of an inning, allowing three runs on two hits, including a home run by J.D. Martinez.
    • Ian Kinsler had a big afternoon, going 3-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
    • Vance Worley was not able to close the door with a big lead, allowing two hits and a run scored in only 0.2 innings of work.
    • Starling Marte was picked off at first base.

During the Nationals’ series, I remember seeing some people on Twitter saying the Pittsburgh Pirates can’t beat good teams. Detroit’s record might only be at .500, but I don’t think anyone can deny that they are a very talented team and the Pirates just took them the woodshed and swept them in their own yard. The first game of the series was a dramatic, tooth-and-nail extra inning affair, but games two and three were absolutely dominating efforts by the Buccos. Sweeping any opponent on the road is an impressive achievement, much less one against a team with Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Yoenis Cespedes. The Pirate offense looked as good as it has all season long and let’s hope this surge carries over as the Pirates return home to take on the Cleveland Indians.

Series result: Pirates win 3-0

2015 win/loss record: 45-33

2015 series record: 12-10-3

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