Pittsburgh Pirates secure third consecutive playoff berth!


Final. 7. 108. 13. 4

The Pittsburgh Pirates collected 19 hits in their 13-7 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Neil Walker knocked in a career high six runs and was one of six batters to record multiple hits, but more importantly the win clinched the Pirates third consecutive playoff spot. The Pirates are now 92-60 and have scored 28 runs in the first three games in Colorado.

Neil Walker put the Pirates ahead in the first inning with a single that scored Josh Harrison and Starling Marte. Walker added a three run home run in the third to give Charlie Morton a healthy lead early in the game. However, the Rockies began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the third when Jose Reyes hit into a fielder’s choice to first that scored Daniel Descalso.

With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Marte doubled to left field to bring in Gregory Polanco and Harrison. In the Colorado half of the inning Descalso drew a bases loaded walk to give the Rockies their second run of the game. Fortunately Morton was able to buckle down and get three outs before any major damage was done.

The fifth inning started out poorly for Morton and only got worse from there. Corey Dickerson began the inning with a solo home run and then Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Morneau reached base with singles. Tom Murphy brought them in with a three run home run, his third of the year. Clint Hurdle made the walk to the mound to get his starting pitcher and brought in Joe Blanton, who recorded the last two outs of the inning.

Blanton stayed in the game for the sixth and kept the Rockies from scoring. Next in the game was Joakim Soria who added a scoreless frame in the seventh inning and Tony Watson who did the same in the eighth. In eight innings Hurdle used four pitchers while Walt Weiss used seven in that same time span.

Any doubt of the Pirates clinching their playoff spot was put to rest in the ninth when they tacked on six more runs. Sean Rodriguez connected for a double with the bases loaded that scored all three base runners. Polanco followed up with a double to bring Rodriguez in, but awkwardly twisted his ankles going into second base. He stayed in the game and limped across home on Harrison’s run scoring single.

After Andrew McCutchen walked (his third of the game) and Marte struck out, Walker added a run scoring single to put the Pirates’ lead at seven. Keon Broxton ended the inning by striking out in his first MLB at-bat. Arquimedes Caminero came in for the ninth in the non-save situation and allowed one run to score on a double by Dickerson, but that was all the Rockies could do in the ninth inning.

What Stood Out

The offense continues to roll in Denver with another big night from the bats. Walker had four hits and a career high 6 RBIs while Jordy Mercer, Harrison and Marte all had three hits in the playoff clinching victory. Granted Colorado has not been a very good team this year, it’s still refreshing to see the Pirates putting together a string of huge offensive games. This is all coming while the Rockies continue to pitch around McCutchen.

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However if there is one blemish on Wednesday’s game it is that Morton was out of the game early and had another bad outing. Once again he began the game strong but ran into a lot of trouble in the middle of the game. He was fortunate in this situation that the offense was able to add on and the bullpen was able to keep Colorado from scoring, outside of Caminero’s performance.

What’s Next

The Pirates will go for the sweep tomorrow at 3:10pm before heading to Chicago for the weekend, sending Jeff Locke to the mound to oppose Chad Bettis. Last time out Locke got knocked around by the Dodgers for five runs (four earned) through more than six innings of work and took the loss. Bettis has won his last two starts, giving up just one run against Padres after shutting out the Mariners.

Next: Has Pedro Alvarez truly improved at the plate?