Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call – Filthy Frankie
Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call, a daily feature here at RumBunter.com. Every morning at 9 AM, one of us will give you our random thoughts on the goings-on around the Piratesâ€™ organization, and weâ€™ll throw out a few links to some good Pirates-related items from around the web
Yesterday the Pirates won their eighth straight game and won the series against the Chicago Cubs as Francisco Liriano was absolutely dominant going 7.2 innings, allowing zero runs on four hits and striking out nine. He had maybe his best start of the second half and completely shut down the Cubs’ batters as they never looked comfortable at the plate.
Antonio Bastardo and Joakim Soria finished off the game as the Pirates stretched their wildcard lead to five and a half games, almost sealing home field for the NL Wildcard game. The Pirates bullpen has been absolutely terrific lately and not just the usual suspects of Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Bastardo and Soria have helped turn the Pirates bullpen into a huge strength going into the final stretch of the 2015 regular season.
Mercer Mercer Me!
The other star of the game was Jordy Mercer as he hit the deciding three-run home run, which was all the offense the Pirates needed. When Jung Ho Kang went down with an injury, fans everywhere were completely heart broken and expecting the worst, but Mercer has filled in nicely, hiting .407 with a home run, four doubles and five RBI. No one can fill the void left from Kang, but Mercer has picked a great time to step his game up for the Pirates.
For a lot of the regular season, Mercer has been somewhat of a whipping boy to many Pirates’ fans and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I know he had a slow start to the season, but for most of his career, offense hasn’t been an issue, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s hitting well now. Mercer might not be the best short stop in baseball, but he’s got a steady glove and is capable of having a solid bat. Not bad for a guy that is generally your number eight hitter. Hopefully Mercer continues to play well and silence his critics, but to quote America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift, â€œthe haters gonna hate, hate, hate.”
Even with the win over the Cubs, the Pirates weren’t able to gain ground in the NL Central race, as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-1, so the Pirates will have to settle for remaining three games out entering play today. However, the upcoming series with the Cardinals is still vital, but I would prefer if the Pirates were within two games entering the series. Hopefully the Pirates can complete the sweep today and the Brewers can help us out again. Regardless of the outcome today, the final home stand of 2015 begins with THE BIGGEST SERIES IN PNC PARK HISTORY.
The Pirates are in a fairly good position right now as they can still compete and try to catch the Cardinals, but their lead over the Cubs is big enough that it’s highly unlikely that the Cubs can catch the Bucs for home field in the Wildcard game. The division title is still the goal, but it’s nice to know that at the minimum we’ll have another PNCParkBlackout for the Wildcard game.
Around the Web
Yahoo Sports says the playoff bound Pirates are built for the long haul.
Here is an awesome pennant hype video from Benstonium.
Next: Should the Pirates bring back Neil Walker next season?