Pittsburgh Pirates rally in eighth, sweep Colorado Rockies
The Pittsburgh Pirates completed the four game sweep of the Colorado Rockies, winning 5-4 thanks to an eighth inning home run by Pedro Alvarez. Jeff Locke had another subpar outing and did not finish six innings once again, but fortunately the offense was able to come through late and give the bullpen a slim lead to work with on Thursday.
Starling Marte, one of the hottest hitters on the Pirates right now, got the scoring started in the first inning when he singled to Jaff Decker. Nolan Arenado gave the Rockies the lead in the third inning when he knocked a two run double. Decker tied the game in the fifth with a single that brought in Harrison.
The Rockies would add two more runs off of Locke. In the fifth inning Cristhian Adames tripled to score Corey Dickerson and then in the sixth Ben Paulsen hit an infield single that scored Kyle Parker. And with that, Locke’s afternoon was done with one out to go. Bobby LaFromboise finished the sixth inning with a strikeout of Dickerson.
Joe Blanton worked a scoreless seventh inning, but did give up a hit, a walk and committed an error. In the top of the eighth Marte and Neil Walker reached base with singles. Alvarez then followed up with one of his trademark day game home runs, a three run shot to give the Pirates a late lead.
After Antonio Bastardo took care of the Colorado hitters in the eighth, Mark Melancon came in for the ninth and closed out the game, striking out two and earning his 50th save of the year. The win puts the Pirates at 93-60, adding pressure to both the Cubs and Cardinals as the season winds down.
What Stood Out
Locke turned in another start where he did not complete six innings and gave up more than three runs. While he did throw 60 of his 93 pitches for strikes, he continues to be one of the weaker options for a rotation spot as the 2015 season comes to an end. At this point he is putting himself in the discussion of who should be left off the postseason roster. With the emergence of J.A. Happ as a lefty option to slot into a playoff rotation, Locke will need to pitch much better in his remaining starts to even be considered for work out of the bullpen in October.
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Alvarez continues to show tremendous power, especially in day games. It is performances like this that can (almost) make his defensive shortcomings easier to swallow. On Thursday he showed once again how his power can quickly change the course of a game. Even with a batting average below .250, pitchers have to be wary of giving him anything that he can drive over the fence.
The Pirates head to Chicago to begin a three game series against the Cubs on Friday at 2:20pm. The game will feature a couple of the best starters in the National League in Gerrit Cole and Jon Lester. Cole pitched seven strong innings in his last start against the Dodgers on September 20th, winning his 17th game of the season while striking out nine and walking zero. Also last pitching on the 20th, Lester most recently took the loss against the Cardinals, surrendering four runs over six innings.
Next: Should the Pirates bring back Neil Walker next season?