Pittsburgh Pirates 4, St. Louis Cardinals 2: Stars And Stiffs

May 6, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates started their nine game road trip with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

With their victory on Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 16-13 overall on the year and an impressive 4-0 against their division rival the St. Louis Cardinals. Also, the Pirates improved to 9-7 on the year against National League Central foes. Here are the three Pittsburgh Pirate stars and stiffs from Friday night’s victory.

Stars

Starting Pitcher Francisco Liriano – Left-handed starter Francisco Liriano pitched a season high seven innings tonight, and allowed two runs on just five hits. Also, Liriano walked just two hitters and struck out ten for the second time this season. After hitting a bit of a rough patch in late April, Liriano has now posted back-to-back great outings which is very encouraging for the Pirates. For a second consecutive start, Liriano’s control was excellent and he did a great job of putting the ball where Francisco Cervelli wanted it all night long.

In his last two starts Liriano has watched his ERA lower from over 5.00 to 3.60, his xFIP lower to 3.84, and his BB/9 that was once over 7.00 has dropped to 4.89 BB/9. While you would like to see Liriano’s BB/9, xFIP, and FIP (4.51) continue to drop it appears he is back on the right track which is huge for the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff.

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – In his first game of the season after surgery last September, Jung Ho Kang went 2-for-4 at the plate with two mammoth home runs. What an incredible game from an incredible player. Even though Kang hit into an inning ending double play and popped out to second base with no one out and the bases loaded in his other two at bats, it is impossible to leave Kang off this list tonight. Welcome back, Jung Ho!

Closer Mark Melancon – Mark Melancon worked around a one out double from Aledmys Diaz to earn his eighth save in nine opportunities this season. Melancon got a strike out, a bouncer back to the mound, and a fly out to right fielder Gregory Polanco to close out the game for the Bucs. Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates have had a lot of struggles from their bullpen this season, closer Mark Melancon has remained rock solid all season long.

* – A special shout out to Sean Rodriguez who made two excellent stretching plays at first base to record outs. The first being on the last out of the eighth inning, and the second coming on the second out of the ninth inning.

Stiffs

Pitcher Tony Watson – What is wrong with Tony Watson? Despite pitching a scoreless eighth inning for the Pirates tonight, Watson struggled mightily. He hit Stephen Piscotty in the foot to lead off the inning, continuing his control issues this season, and he followed this up by allowing a base hit to Matt Holliday.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer – Jordy Mercer is off to a hot start at the plate this season, but he had a rough go of things on Friday night. Mercer was 0-for-4, including striking out with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning on a pitch that was at about his neck. Mercer also made a very poor throw on a Randal Grichuk ground out with two outs and two on in the eighth inning. Luckily for Mercer and the Pirates, Sean Rodriguez made a great stretching play to bail him out.

Next: Pirates Travel to St. Louis, Look to End Recent Skid

That will do it for tonight. The Pittsburgh Pirates played a very strong all around game tonight, and there are only two stiffs as a result! Enjoy this win ya’ll, the Bucs are 4-0 against the Cardinals this season! As the great Ric Flair would say, woooooo!

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