The Pittsburgh Pirates win their second straight against the Cardinals by the score of 2-1. They now lead the series 2-1 with the finale tomorrow at 2:15 pm ET.
The start of Saturday’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals was scheduled for 2:15 pm ET. Well, a rain delay that last longer than the actual game pushed the start time back to 5:10 PM.
When the rain cleared out and baseball was played, the Pirates picked up a 2-1 victory over the Red Birds. This was the team’s second 2-1 victory on as many days over their divisional rivals. With the win, the Pirates are now 7-3 in their last 10 games and 19-17 overall on the season. This includes a 3-2 mark through the first 5 games of a vital 13 games in 13 days stretch.
When the game started, Jordan Lyles turned in a fantastic start after laboring through the 1st inning with 30 pitches. Pitch count hasn’t been kind to Pirates starters in the 1st inning as of late. Lyles did settle down after that as he finished with 3 walks and 1 earned run allowed on only one hit by the Cards. It was a nice bounce back from a long 1st inning in similar fashion to Trevor Williams in last night’s victory.
The bats weren’t particularly scorching, but the 2 lone runs given up by Miles Mikolas was enough to lock it down for the Buccos. In the top of the 4th inning, Gregory Polanco drove a triple into the gap scoring Starling Marte. Josh Bell followed that up by singling him in.
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Overall, the Pirates were only able to scratch out 4 hits in this contest. The bats are going to need to heat up sooner rather than later, as the pitching isn’t going to be able to outperform the opponent every given day. Bell, Polanco, and Marte have been bright spots in this lineup.
Clint Hurdle went to the 7th inning in the bullpen. He started out by handing the ball to Richard Rodriguez. As Pirate fans held their breath, Rodriguez retired the two batters he faced to keep the score at 2-1.
Hurdle then did something he does not do nearly often enough with his bullpen, he played match ups! With switch hitter Dexter Fowler and lefty Kolten Wong looming, Hurdle went to lefty Francisco Liriano. The veteran lefty needed just one pitch to get Fowler to ground out to end the inning.
While Rodriguez has struggled with the long ball this season, there are signs he is getting back on track. His swing-and-miss rate has been better the past month, and, after Saturday’s outing, he has allowed just 5 earned runs in his last 15 2/3 innings pitched.
A pair of walks got Kyle Crick into trouble in the 8th inning, but he got Marcell Ozuna to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning. This came after Crick threw a wild pitch on a 3-0 pitch to Paul DeJong with two outs and runners on the corners. The Bucs got a luck bounce when the ball hit off the back stop, but catcher Elias Diaz also made a great play to get to the ball quickly and fire to Crick covering the plate to keep Wong at third base.
Felipe Vazquez continued to dominate in the 9th. He retired the Cardinals in order, ending the game.
Remarkably, 67% of the Pirates games this season have been decided by 2 runs or less. This makes playing strong defense and having a shut down bullpen vital. While the team still has the occasional defensive hiccup, having a bullpen trio of Liriano, Crick, and Vazquez helps a good bit. This is why it’s crucial that Rodriguez get back on track, and Keone Kela return from his injury pitching the way he did last season.
The Pirates will send southpaw Steven Brault to the mound tomorrow to oppose Dakota Hudson. Brault had good success in his last start against the Texas Rangers. But, he looks to go deeper into the ballgame tomorrow. It looks as if both him and Nick Kingham receive at least one more start as Chris Archer will be ready to come back into the rotation late next week. It will be interesting to see which guy stays in the rotation once Archer is back.
Sunday’s first pitch from Busch Stadium is scheduled for 2:15 PM.