The Pittsburgh Pirates have now won seven games in a row, and ten of their last twelve, after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Are the people who declared the Pittsburgh Pirates dead ready to admit they were wrong now? The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 7-5 on Wednesday night, giving the Pirates their seventh consecutive victory. Furthermore, this was the Pirates’ sixth straight come form behind victory and improved the Pirates to 10-2 in their last 12 games.
With the win, the Pittsburgh Pirates surpassed the St. Louis Cardinals to get back into second place in the National League Central Division. The Pirates are now eight and a half games behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central Division, and just two and a half behind the New York Mets for the last National League postseason spot. Here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Wednesday night’s victory.
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Off the field it was been a tumultuous 24 hours for Jung Ho Kang. On the field however, he busted out of his recent slump on Wednesday night. Jung Ho Kang went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI on Wednesday night.
In fact, Jung Ho Kang is the man who drove in the winning run in Wednesday’s Pittsburgh Pirates victory. In the top of the seventh inning Kang line a double into the right-center gap that scored both David Freese and Andrew McCutchen. This double took what was a 5-4 Cardinals’ lead, and made it a 6-4 Pirate lead.
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Hopefully this big night will help get Jung Ho Kang going at the plate again. Despite his recent struggled, Jung Ho Kang still has a .361 wOBA and a 129 wRC+ on the season. This is a higher wOBA than last season, and his wRC+ is just one point lower.
First baseman David Freese – David Freese did what David Freese has done for the Pittsburgh Pirates all season long and had a big game on Wednesday night. David Freese finished Wednesday night’s game 1-for-3 with a solo home run, two walks, and two runs scored. David Freese now has a .366 wOBA and a 132 wRC+ on the season.
David Freese got the scoring started in Wednesday night’s game when he hit a one out solo home run in the top of the first inning to give the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead. This was Freese’s ninth home run of the season, as he is on pace to surpass the 14 he hit last season. In fact, if he gets enough at bats, Freese’s career high home run total of 20 could be challenged this season.
Neal Huntington’s decision to sign David Freese in Spring Training just keeps looking better by the day. David Freese has been as good as any Pirate hitter not named Starling Marte or Gregory Polanco this season, and he has also played a strong defensive third base and first base. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best bench in Major League Baseball, and David Freese is a big reason why.
Right fielder Sean Rodriguez – The best season of Sean Rodriguez’s career continued on Wednesday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates super utility man got the start in right field and made huge contributions both offensively and defensively on Wednesday night. Quietly, Sean Rodriguez has been one of the most value Pirates in 2016.
At the plate on Wednesday night Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two RBIs. Rodriguez also made one of the best catches you will see all season in the Pirate victory. In the bottom of the first inning Rodriguez made an unreal leap, tumbling catch to rob Matt Holliday of a one out double.
Rodriguez had a great first step on the ball lined by Holliday, and took a perfect route and angle to the ball in the right-center gap. Rodriguez leaped up, gloved the ball, tumbled to the ground, and held on. This catch proved to be vital because without it, the Cardinals would have scored in the first inning.
Starting pitcher Jeff Locke – With Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon slated to return from the disabled list next weekend, Chad Kuhl having pitched well since being promoted to the Major Leagues, and Tyler Glasnow making his Major League debut tomorrow, Jeff Locke’s days in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation might be numbered. And the outing Locke had on Wednesday night did not help matters. Jeff Locke lasted just four innings allowing five runs on eight hits.
After his bad outing on Wednesday night Jeff Locke now owns a 5.38 ERA, 4.96 FIP, and a 4.99 xFIP in 98 2/3 innings pitched this season. Jeff Locke also has a career worst 47.1 percent groundball rate, as well as averaging a career low 4.66 K/9. For these reasons, Jeff Locke’s days are probably numbered.
Shortstop Jordy Mercer – Wednesday night did not go well for Jordy Mercer at the plate. Mercer finished the night 0-for-5 at the plate. On top of going 0-for-5, Mercer also struck out twice and stranded a pair of runners on base.
In the top of the first inning Jordy Mercer struck out looking to begin the game, this included taking a pair of middle-middle fastballs begging to be hit hard. Then in the top of the fifth inning Mercer came to the plate with Erik Kratz on third base and just one out. Well, Mercer would end up grounding out to third base and no run scored. He also flew out with Eric Fryer on second base and just one out in the top of the eighth.
That will do it for Wednesday night’s game. This was an awesome win for the Pittsburgh Pirates who looked to be in trouble when they were trailing 5-1 after four innings. However, the bullpen kept throwing up zeroes, the offense kept chipping away, and the Pittsburgh Pirates earned a very gratifying victory.
Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Pirates will go for the four game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals when Tyler Glasnow, one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, makes his Major League debut against Adam Wainwright at 1:45pm. Getting the win, especially in Glasnow’s Major League debut, to finish the road trip at 8-1 would be fantastic. However, a 7-2 road trip is pretty darn good too.