Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Cincinnati Reds 1: Stars And Stiffs
The Pittsburgh Pirates have now won back-to-back games for the first time this month. After defeating the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 on Thursday night, the Pirates are now four games behind the New York Mets for the second National League Wild Card spot.
After enduring an eight game losing streak that at times seemed like it would never end, the Pittsburgh Pirates have now won back-to-back games. This is due to the Pirates defeating the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of their four game series on Thursday night. With the win the Pirates now own a super nice record of 69-69 this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates got yet another outstanding start from Ivan Nova on Thursday night. The Bucco bats were able to strike for three first inning runs, and this would prove to be enough for the victory. Now, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates’ three stars and stiffs from their 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
Starting pitcher Ivan Nova – Ivan Nova’s incredible work as a Pittsburgh Pirate continued on Thursday night. Nova hurled an absolute gem against the Cincinnati Reds and led the Pirates to their second consecutive victory.
Ivan Nova went the distance on Thursday night, this gives him two complete games in his last four starts. In his nine innings of work Nova allowed just one run on six hits, zero walks, and four strikeouts. Maybe most impressive is that Nova did it on just 95 pitches.
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In five of the nine innings on Thursday night Ivan Nova retired the Reds on less than ten pitches. He also retired the first 12 batters he faced in this game. Nova has now made seven starts as a Pirate, and he has walked just two batters. There really are no more words to describe how well Ivan Nova has pitched for the Pirates.
This complete game also came when the Pirates dearly needed it. Despite the extra arms, the Pirates’ bullpen was pretty taxed on Thursday night. Trevor Williams, Tony Watson, Neftali Feliz, and A.J. Schugel were all unavailable, but Nova was able to give the entire bullpen the night off.
Nova is a free agent to be. Due to his resurgence with the Pirates, someone will pay him nicely this offseason. And I would love for it to be the Pirates.
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Believe it or not, Jung Ho Kang is having a better season in 2016 than he did in 2015. After Thursday night’s performance Kang owns a .592 slugging percentage, .364 wOBA, 130 wRC+, and a .265 ISO. All of these are improvements over his stats from last year.
On Thursday night Kang finished 1-for-4 with a double, two RBIs, a run scored and he was hit by pitch. Kang got the Pirates on board with a two-out two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to spot the Pirates an early 2-0 lead. And these two runs would prove to be plenty with the way Ivan Nova pitched.
Jung Ho Kang also made a tremendous defensive play in the top of the seventh inning. With one out Brandon Phillips smoked a ball down the third base line. However, Kang was able to backhand the ball and throw onto first to retire Phillips.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – After having a rough go of things on Wednesday night and ending up on the stiffs’ list, Andrew McCutchen had a good bounce back game on Thursday night. McCutchen contributed at the plate as well as in the field on Thursday. It is good to see McCutchen month long resurgence continue.
Andrew McCutchen finished the game with a hit, a run scored, a walk, and a RBI. Furthermore, McCutchen also made a stellar play in center field. McCutchen made a great leaping catch, while on a dead sprint, to straight away center field to rob Adam Duvall of extra bases to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
Actually, there are none tonight. Yay! Ivan Nova threw a complete game and every member of the starting lineup got a hit except Jordy Mercer. Despite not recording a hit, Jordy Mercer was intentionally walked twice and made multiple top notch defensive plays at shortstop. Plus, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 69-69 and there is certainly nothing stiff about that.
Next: Drew Hutchison Set To Make His Pirate Debut
The Pittsburgh Pirates will go for win number three in a row at 7:05 PM Friday night. The Bucs will send left-handed pitcher Steven Brault to the mound. The Reds will counter with right-handed starter Tim Adleman.