Marte, Mercer lead Pittsburgh Pirates in 9-3 win


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Starling Marte and Jordy Mercer both collected four  hits to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates in their 9-3 thumping of the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. The Pirates’ offense recorded 15 hits total and saw Francisco Cervelli and Aramis Ramirez register multi hit games as well as the team coasted to their 90th win of the season, just the second team (besides you know who) to reach that mark in 2015.

The Pirates took an early lead off of the rookie Jon Gray with solo home runs by Marte and Ramirez in the first inning. In the second inning Mercer doubled to score Cervelli and then saw the exact same sequence of events happen again in the fourth inning to add another run. Gregory Polanco contributed a run scoring single to give the Pirates a five run lead through four innings.

The fifth inning was where things got a little dicey for the Pirates. DJ LeMahieu hit into a routine double play but Pedro Alvarez was unable to handle Mercer’s throw, committing his 21st error of the year. The inning was further extended by Corey Dickerson‘s single and then the Rockies made the Pirates pay for Alvarez’s mistake when Tom Murphy blasted a three run home run to left field. A.J. Burnett was able to strike out Nolan Arenado with the bases loaded, limiting the damage in an inning that could have been much worse.

Pittsburgh got one of the runs back in the sixth inning when Marte doubled off of Scott Oberg to score Mercer. In the Colorado half of the inning, Burnett retired the first two hitters before giving up two walks and a double. Antonio Bastardo was called upon to end the inning and did just that, getting Charlie Blackmon to line out to Polanco in right field. The Pirates received scoreless innings from both Joakim Soria and Tony Watson in the seventh and eighth innings before putting the game away in the ninth.

Marte began the inning with a single and moved to second when Andrew McCutchen walked. Ramirez singled in Marte and then was replaced by Keon Broxton, who made his debut on Monday. Neil Walker grounded out but got McCutchen to score and move Broxton to second. Broxton quickly took off for third and made it safely, then scored on the throwing error by the catcher. In the ninth and with a six run lead, Clint Hurdle elected to use Bobby LaFromboise in the ninth. He got the first two outs but allowed Blackmon to reach and then was replaced by Arquimedes Caminero. After uncorking a wild pitch, Caminero got the last out of the game to give the Pirates their 90th win in just their 150th game.

What Stood Out

The offense was the big story on Monday, coming together for 15 hits, eight of those from Marte and Mercer. This was one of those nights where the team was firing on all cylinders and the Colorado pitchers never really had a chance to catch their breath. With Jung Ho Kang out for the rest of the season, Mercer’s performance tonight is hopefully a sign of him getting hot at the plate as the Pirates try to catch up with the Cardinals and at the same time keep the Cubs in the review mirror.

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Burnett did not have his best stuff but the error by Alvarez needlessly extended the fifth inning and in turn made Burnett’s pitch count rise quickly. He did walk four in his five and two third innings, which is more than he usually gives up. He’ll look to bring that number down in his next start, most likely this weekend in Chicago.

What’s Next

The four game series at Coors Field will continue on Tuesday at 8:40pm when J.A. Happ and Chris Rusin face off. In his last outing against the Cubs, Happ took the loss but pitched five and two third innings and struck out eight while walking two. This was just his second loss since joining the Pirates at the trade deadline. Rusin earned a win in his last start against the Dodgers, completing six innings and struck out three. The low strikeout total has been the norm for Rusin this year, as he has relied on usually inducing ground outs, as those make up the majority of his outs in any given start.

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