Pittsburgh Pirates 1, San Francisco Giants 0: Stars And Stiffs
On Monday night the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates got their eight game home stand off to a great start with a 1-0 victory over the red-hot San Francisco Giants.
The Pittsburgh Pirates five game losing streak is over, yay! In a game that no one, myself included, gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a chance in they turned in arguably their best all-around performance of the season. The Pirates beat Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants by a score of 1-0 on Monday night.
This was a game the Pittsburgh Pirates needed desperately. Hopefully this win will help the Pittsburgh Pirates get some momentum rolling as they begin this eight game homestand. Anyway, here are Monday night’s three stars and stiffs.
Starting pitcher Jeff Locke – After allowing 19 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings pitched his last four starts, Jeff Locke was phenomenal on Monday night. Locke pitched one of his best games of the season holding the Giants scoreless on just five hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Also, Locke did not walk anyone and struck out a trio of Giant hitters.
Even though Jeff Locke was not as good on Monday night as he was earlier this month when he threw a complete shutout against the Marlin, he was still masterful on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates entered this game on a five game losing streak, they had fallen to four games out of a postseason position, they were facing Madison Bumgarner, and no one expected them to win tonight. Well, Jeff Locke had other ideas as he whirled a gem.
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Jeff Locke also made contributions in the field and at the plate. In the top of the second inning Locke made a great play to field a ball hit by Giants’ right fielder Jarrett Parker, plant his foot, and fire the ball to first base for the second out of the inning. Locke also did a great job of covering first base on a ground ball hit far to David Freese‘s right by Brandon Crawford in the top of the seventh inning. Jeff even picked up a base hit off of Madison Bumgarner in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Catcher Erik Kratz – Do you believe in miracles? Well, if not, you should because one happened at PNC Park on Monday night. Erik Kratz, the worst position player in all of Major League Baseball, hit a home run. And it was not just any home run, it was a solo home run off of Madison Bumgarner in a 1-0 victory.
In all seriousness, you have to feel good for Erik Kratz tonight. The guy has been a miserable player the past handful of seasons and had been hitless as a Pirate entering this game. The guy, rightfully so, had taken a lot of criticism from the fans. But on Monday night, Kratz was the hero.
Right fielder Gregory Polanco – The evolution of Gregory Polanco continues. Last year, Gregory Polanco batting against Madison Bumgarner would have been terrifying. On Monday night though Polanco got the better of Bumgarner.
Gregory Polanco went 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk. Polanco’s single was a 110mph rocket to right field in the second inning. Then in the fifth inning, he hit another ball 110mph this one just happened to be an atom ball right into the glove of San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt. Then in the seventh inning Polanco crushed a Bumgarner pitch just foul down the right field line, but drew a walk on the very next pitch.
Gregory Polanco also showed off his always strong defense on Monday night as well. In the top of the ninth inning with Brandon Belt on first base and Buster Posey at the plate, Polanco made a running catch to take a hit away from Posey for the first out of the inning. Then, Polanco fired the ball to first base to double up Belt for the inning’s second out.
Second baseman Josh Harrison – Josh Harrison usually crushed left-handed pitching, but this was not the case on Monday night. Harrison finished his night 0-for-4 at the plate with a strike out. It was an uncharacteristically bad night for the Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman against left-handed pitching.
Josh Harrison also hit into a double play on Monday night. This came in the top of the third inning after Jordy Mercer hit a one out single. After going 0-for-4 on Monday night, Josh Harrison saw his batting average dip to below .300 for quite a while.
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Much like Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang does not have very many hitless games. However, Monday night was one of those games. The Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman finished the night 0-for-3 at the plate.
On top of being held without a hit, Kang also struck out in two of his three at bats. Strike outs have been the only real issue with Kang this season. His 20.4 percent strike out rate is not terrible, but you would like to see it be below 20 percent.
Despite his strike out rate being a little higher than you would like to see, it is impossible to complain about Kang. His .382 wOBA and 145 wRC+ this season are outstanding. And the fact he is doing all of this after the catastrophic injury he suffered at the end of last season just makes it that much more impressive.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – Andrew McCutchen’s struggles continue. The Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder went 0-for-4 on Monday night dropping his wOBA to .314 and wRC+ to 98 on the season. However, McCutchen did not strike out at all which is good to see due to his 24.6 percent strike out rate this season.
There is no end in sight to the struggles that Andrew McCutchen has endured this season. Hopefully for both his sake and that of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he starts to play like himself again and soon.
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That will do it for now. Monday night was a great, much needed win for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hopefully this will help them begin to right what has been a sinking ship in June.
Things do not get any easier tomorrow though as the Bucs will do battle with old nemesis Johnny Cueto. Adding to the struggle of beating Cueto is that it seems Wilfredo Boscan will get the start. Even though Boscan’s 2.92 ERA in 12 1/3 innings pitched at the Major League level this season is impressive, his 5.25 xFIP and .231 BABIP both indicate he is due for some serious regression.