Pittsburgh Pirates 5, Milwaukee Brewers 3: Stars And Stiffs
On Thursday night the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 to capture their three game series with the Brew Crew.
The Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 49-46 this season on Thursday night by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 5-3. The best part of the Pittsburgh Pirates victory was the performance of starting pitcher Francisco Liriano. For the first time in over two months, Liriano looked like the dominating pitcher he was for the Pittsburgh Pirates the past three seasons.
To go along with Liriano’s great outing, the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to jump on struggling Brewers’ starting pitcher Matt Garza early and often on Thursday night. The Pirates bullpen also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief on Thursday night. Here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs of their 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano – In Thursday night’s start Francisco Liriano looked like the pitcher that fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates had watched the past three seasons. Thursday night was Liriano’s best start of the season, and one of his best in his four years as a Pirate. It was a lot of fun to watch at the ballpark on Thursday night.
Francisco Liriano pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs, just two earned, on four hits, zero walks, and 13 strikeouts. Liriano joined Jose DeLeon as the only starting pitcher in Pittsburgh Pirates history to strikeout at least 13 batters in a start without issuing a walk. The zero walks were a great sign from Liriano, as he entered Thursday night’s start leading the National League in walks issued.
Francisco Liriano had great command of all his pitches on Thursday night. He was able to spot his fastball where catcher Eric Fryer wanted it, and that helped to set up his slider and change-up. It was great to see Liriano with this command and getting so many swings and misses.
Maybe just maybe Francisco Liriano is starting to turn a corner. In his last seven starts Liriano has a 3.50 FIP, he’s allowed just one home run, and 9.00 K/9 and 4.50 BB/9. While that walk rate is still too high, it is certainly trending in the right direction. Plus, Liriano’s past three starts are the best he has looked also season. If the Pittsburgh Pirates could get Filthy Franky back to go with Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Jameson Taillon in their rotation this team will make the postseason.
Right fielder Matt Joyce – Originally, Matt Joyce was not supposed to start for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. Starling Marte was slated to play left field and hit clean up for the Pirates, while Gregory Polanco was in right field. However, Marte was scratched 15 minutes before first pitch due to flu like symptoms. As a result Gregory Polanco was shifted to left field, Matt Joyce was inserted in right field and the clean up spot, and Joyce had a huge game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates struck for three first inning runs, and those were courtesy the bat of Matt Joyce. After Matt Garza issued back-to-back walked to Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen, Joyce launched a 1-0 pitch over the Clemente Wall to give the Pirates a quick 3-0 lead. Joyce would add his fourth RBI of the night on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third inning.
Matt Joyce finished the night 1-for-3 with a home run and four RBI. On the season Matt Joyce now has a nine home runs and a .539 slugging percentage to go along with a .399 wOBA and a 155 wRC+. What a great signing Matt Joyce has been by Neal Huntington.
Left fielder Gregory Polanco – All season long Gregory Polanco has been an on-base machine, and this continued on Thursday night. Polanco finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Polanco now owns a .362 on-base percentage this season.
Watching Gregory Polanco grow into arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates best player this season has been an absolute blast. On the year Polanco now has a .359 wOBA, 128 wRC+, and a 2.6 WAR To go along with his .362 on-base percentage. The Pirates have a very special player in Polanco.
Third baseman David Freese – David Freese had a rare hitless game on Thursday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman finished the game 0-for-4. Despite going 0-for-4, he still has a .356 wOBA and a 126 wRC+ on the season.
On top of going 0-for-4, David Freese left three men on base on Thursday night. This included Freese hitting into a double play to end the third inning. As I said above, this was a rare poor game from David Freese.
Only one stiff tonight, yay! The Pittsburgh Pirates got great starting pitching, strong work from the bullpen, and every position player had at least one hit minus David Freese. So, Mr. Freese is the lone stiff from this victory.
Next: Pirates And Phillies Series Preview
That will put the wraps on the Pittsburgh Pirates series this week with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates did exactly what they need to do against bad teams and won the series. Now, they welcome another bad team to PNC Park this weekend in the form of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The series will kick off on Friday night when the Pittsburgh Pirates send Gerrit Cole to the mound at 7:05. For more information on this series click above.