Pittsburgh Pirates 2, Washington Nationals 1: Stars And Stiffs
The Pittsburgh Pirates outlasted the Washington Nationals to earn a 2-1 victory in 18 innings on Sunday afternoon. For my money, this was the best win of the season so far for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals played an absolute marathon of a game on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon’s contest lasted 18 innings, but in the end the Pittsburgh Pirates prevailed with a 2-1 victory. For a lot of reasons, Sunday afternoon was a very gratifying win for the Pirates.
At first it looked like the Pittsburgh Pirates would get the win in just nine innings. However, with the Washington Nationals down to their last out Daniel Murphy launched a 2-2 Mark Melancon cutter into the right field seats to tie the game at one. This was the first run Melancon had allowed since April.
After Murphy’s home run no one could have guessed this game would last 18 innings, but that is exactly what happened. In the end though the Pittsburgh Pirates got fantastic work from their bullpen and earned a 2-1 victory. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Sunday’s marathon victory.
Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl – If today was Chad Kuhl’s last start for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the foreseeable future, he went out with a bang. It is very possible that Chad Kuhl is optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Jameson Taillon on Tuesday, but it would not be due to anything he did wrong today. In six innings pitched Chad Kuhl kept the Washington Nationals off the scoreboard while allowing just one hit, he hit a batter, he did not walk anyone, he struck out five, and he retired 14 in a row at one point.
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After Sunday afternoon’s effort, Chad Kuhl now has a 4.19 ERA and 4.10 FIP on the season. Chad Kuhl has been up and down in his four Major League starts, but Sunday afternoon’s was by far the best. While I expect Chad Kuhl to be optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon, I expect we will see him in Pittsburgh again this season.
Left fielder Starling Marte – The Pittsburgh Pirates did not get much offense on Sunday afternoon, but the offense they did get ran through Starling Marte. Starling Marte stepped to the plate eight times on Sunday afternoon and he recorded three hits, a double, he drove in both Pirate runs, he stole a base, he was walked intentionally, and he hit the game winning home run in the top of the 18th inning. The was the seventh home run of the season for Starling Marte.
Starling Marte also threw out Trea Turner when he tried to stretch a lead off single in the bottom of the 17th inning into a lead off double. On the season Marte now has a .354 wOBA and a 124 wRC+. Also, his 32 steals rank second in the National League and his .315 batting average is eighth best. Starling Marte continues to grow into one of the best all-around players in the National League and it is so fun to watch.
Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel – A.J. Schugel inherited a mess in the bottom of the tenth inning. After Arquimedes Caminero walked the first two National hitters of the inning, Clint Hurdle called upon A.J. Schugel to help clean up the mess. And Schugel did just this.
A.J. Schugel was able to get a fly out, and then an inning ending double play to keep the game tied at one. Schugel also pitched the eleventh inning and, obviously, posted a zero. In the end, A.J. Schugel finished the day with two innings pitched, zero hits, one walk, and one strikeout.
A lot of Pittsburgh Pirates relievers could have made this list today. However, the reason Schugel made it was for cleaning up that mess in the tenth inning. That was the biggest scoring threat the Washington Nationals had in extra innings, and Schugel cleaned it up nicely.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – The season from hell continued on Sunday afternoon for Andrew McCutchen. After going 0-for-8 at the plate on Sunday McCutchen is now slashing just .244/.314/.415/.729 on the season to go along with a .311 wOBA and a wRC+ of 95. Also, his strikeout rate has jumped to 24.7 percent after striking out twice on Sunday.
Andrew McCutchen left five men on base on Sunday. This included hitting into a double play after Adam Frazier walked to lead off the top of the 18th inning. Luckily, Starling Marte picked up McCutchen and the entire Pirate team one batter latter.
Relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero – Arquimedes Caminero has pitched very well since coming off the disabled list on June 11th, but Sunday did not go well. Caminero entered in the top of the tenth inning with the game tied at one, and proceeded to uncork eight straight balls. After issuing back-to-back four pitch walks, Caminero was pulled for A.J. Schugel.
A.J. Schugel was able to bail out Caminero, keep the game tied, and help to propel the Pittsburgh Pirates to victory. Hopefully Sunday’s struggles were just an off day for Caminero. Caminero’s reemergence has been a big reason the Pirate bullpen has been so strong of late.
That will do it for the stiffs today. This game was way to gratifying of a win for me to name three stiffs. Especially with how well the pitching did today.
Next: Jameson Taillon Set To Return To The Rotation
That will do it for Sunday afternoon. As I said above, in my opinion this was the best win of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now the Bucs will enjoy a well deserved off day tomorrow.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will return to action at home on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pittsburgh Pirates have 70 games remaining, and 42 of them are against teams that are below .500. Time to start making hay, Bucs.