On Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates recorded their 14th shutout of the 2018 season
The struggling Pittsburgh Pirates entered Wednesday night’s contest against the St. Louis Cardinals 3-11 in their previous 14 games. This stretched caused the Pirate record to fall from 61-57, to four games below .500 at 64-68.
Wednesday night, however, saw the Pirates play one of their best games of the last two weeks. Backed by more great pitching, the Pirates were 2-0 victors to improve to 65-68 overall this season, and 2-3 through the first five games of their current nine-game road trip.
Facing one of the biggest surprises in all of Major League Baseball this season in Mile Mikolas, the Pirates had an opportunity to strike early. An Adam Frazier double, Francisco Cervelli walk, and an infield hit by Corey Dickerson loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the 1st inning. Mikolas, who threw over 30 pitches in the inning, was able to wiggle off the hook by inducing a fly out off the bat of Josh Bell to end the inning.
Pirate start Trevor Williams ran into some 1st inning troubles of his own that he, like Mikolas, was able to pitch around.
After walking Matt Carpenter and allowing a double to Yadier Molina, Williams was in hot water and fast. After striking out Jose Martinez, he retired Tyler O’Neill with the help of a fantastic running basket catch by Frazier. Some poor base running by Carpenter helped as well. Williams then struck out Paul DeJong to end the threat.
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After the 1st inning, Williams and Mikolas would both settle in for a few innings. With Williams and Mikolas exchanging zeroes, the Pirate offense was the first to break through.
In his first game back from the disabled list, Jordy Mercer doubled to lead off to the top of the 5th inning. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Williams, the Cardinals brought their infield in. Bringing the infield in would bite the Red Birds as Starling Marte hit a pop up that barely got out of the infield but dropped in as a run-scoring hit due to the infield being drawn in.
With Marte running, Frazier singled to left field allowing Marte to reach third base easily. Gregory Polanco then ripped an RBI single into right field, making the score 2-0 Pirates. Polanco’s hit put Mikolas on the ropes, but he was able to counterpunch by getting Cervelli to line out and Dickerson to fly out to end the inning.
After the bottom of the 1st inning, Williams cruised until the bottom of the 6th. A single by Matt Adams and a walk by Martinez put two Cardinal runners on base with just one out. But Williams got out of it unscathed with a strikeout and a fly out.
Entering Wednesday night’s start Williams had allowed just four runs in his previous seven starts. His hot streak only continued on Wednesday when he tossed 6 shutout innings against the Cardinals. Williams allowed just three hits, he walked three, and he struck out a new career-best eight. This was also the eighth time this season that Williams did not allow a run.
Edgar Santana took over for Williams in the bottom of the 7th inning and, while it did not come easily due to an error and hit batter, he posted a zero. After Santana, it was Keone Kela‘s turn and he fired a scoreless inning of his own.
As the game entered the bottom of the 9th inning with the Pirates leading 2-0, it became Felipe Vazquez time. Despite a two-out double by Yairo Munoz, Vazquez pitched a scoreless inning to close out the Pirates’ 14th shutout of the season.
Wednesday night was the fifth time this season the Cardinals have been shutout, and the third time it has been done by the Pirates. With the win, the Bucs are now 7-8 against their divisional rivals this season.
The third and final game of this series is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Thursday night. Joe Musgrove (3.56 ERA, 3.73 FIP) will start for the Pirates while the Cardinals will counter with rookie John Gant (3.56 ERA, 3.90 FIP). Musgrove and the Pirates will look to break the Cardinals’ steak of nine consecutive series victory.