The Pittsburgh Pirates 9 game losing streak against the Arizona Diamondbacks has come to an end
There are few things in sports more satisfying than revenge. The Pittsburgh Pirates entered their current three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks looking for some revenge after the D-Backs swept a four-game series in Pittsburgh last month. As I wrote about after last night’s loss, some times, you need to wait to get your revenge. For the Pirates, their revenge began on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night, the Pirates earned a 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks. This victory makes the Pirates 4-2 on their current 11 game road trip and 21-18 overall. Additionally, the Pirates are now 5-3 through the first 8 games of a vital 13 games in 13 days stretch. Most importantly, the team has *finally* beaten the Diamondbacks. Who, I remind you, will forever suck for breaking Andrew McCutchen‘s ribs in 2014 and likely costing the Pirates a division championship.
Early on, the Pirates had opportunities to score.
Starling Marte doubled with one out in the top of the 1st inning, but this was followed by two strikeouts. Melky Cabrera singled to start the 2nd and Colin Moran bunted into the shift to put two men on with no one out. After a pop out and strikeout, Joe Musgrove walked to load the bases. Adam Frazier then swung at the first pitch he saw and popped out to end the inning.
This made the Pirates a miserable 3-for-27 with the bases loaded this season. To be blunt, this is not good enough. No team can afford to waste scoring opportunities like this, but this is especially true for a team that has as small a margin for error as the Pirates do.
RISP woes and all, the Pirates would still score first.
This lead would grow to 3-0 in the top of the 5th inning when Bell hit a mammoth 2-run home run. He launched a Luke Weaver fastball 446 feet at 110.2 MPH. So far this season, he has played like a legitimate MVP candidate. Oh, and he was not done!
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Bell’s escapades continued in the 8th inning when he hit a 460 foot moonshot off of Zack Godley. This made the score 4-0 Bucs, and gave Bell 12 home runs tying his total from last season. He now owns a .329/.398/.692 slash line, a .363 ISO, .441 wOBA, and a 180 wRC+ this season. It’s time to talk about MVP candidate Josh Bell.
These home runs extended Bell’s career, and current MLB best, hitting streak to 14 consecutive games. New hitting coaches Rick Eckstein and Jacob Fox deserve a ton of credit for the work they have done with Bell this season. The former top prospect is finally starting to put it all together and become the elite hitter he has always had the potential to be.
Later in the 8th inning, the Pirate lead would grow to 6-0. Playing in front of more than 300 friends and family members in his hometown of Phoenix, shortstop Cole Tucker cranked a 2-run home run. After hitting his second career home run Tucker used sign language to flash ‘I love you’ at his parents in the stands.
What an awesome, awesome moment. Moments like this exemplify why sports can be so damn great.
After struggling mightily in his last two starts, Joe Musgrove was looking for a bounce back outing. After issuing a lead off walk to start the bottom of the 1st inning, Big Joe put a foot down, took over the game, and got back on track.
In 7 innings of work Musgrove held the D-Backs scoreless. He allowed just one hit, he walked two, and struck out five. Musgrove needed just 75 pitches to get through these 7 innings, which made Clint Hurdle pulling him a head scratcher.
With the Pirates leading 5-0, Musgrove rolling, and the bullpen having been taxed in the past week Hurdle should have let Musgrove keep pitching. Instead, he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 8th inning and the game was turned over to the bullpen. While it may not seem like much, this was a dumb decision by Hurdle and one that could have ripple effects later this week.
Getting back to Musgrove, after his last start Dave took a look at his drop in velocity this season. On Tuesday night, his velocity was back on track. He also bounced back from his five walk performance in his last start by showing great control. His fastball was firm, his slider was crisp, and Big Joe appears to be back.
Following Musgrove, Richard Rodriguez took the mound for the Pirates. The long ball has plagued Rich Rod all season long and this continued on Tuesday night. Rodriguez recorded a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the 8th inning, but he also allowed a solo home run to Carson Kelly that got Arizona on the board.
While Rodriguez has struggled with the long ball this season, he is still one of Hurdle’s go to pitchers in high leverage situations. Also, he has pitched well this season minus the home run ball. However, due to being used he could be unavailable on Wednesday afternoon. And, if he is and pitches, he will then be unavailable on Thursday in San Diego.
Michael Feliz was handed the ball for the 9th inning. While he allowed a run on two base hits, Feliz also struck out a pair to slam the door shut in a 6-1 Pirate victory.
Tuesday night’s game was something fans have not seen much of this season – an easy Pirate victory. Entering this game, over 65% of the team’s games this season had been decided by 2 runs or less. The team, however, got out to a big lead on Tuesday night and cruised to victory. Something my blood pressure wishes they would do more of.
There was a lot of feel good to come out of Tuesday night’s victory. Josh Bell continues to kill baseballs, Starling Marte had another multi-hit game and appears to be back on track after a slow start, Cole Tucker hit a much needed home run, and Joe Musgrove pitched lights out and his back on track. Best of all, the team snapped their long losing streak against the Diamondbacks.
The third and final game of this series is scheduled for 3:40 on Wednesday afternoon. Chris Archer (4.33 ERA, 4.81 FIP) will return from the IL for the Pirates, while the Diamondbacks will counter with former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke (3.16 ERA, 3.55 FIP). Archer will be looking to pitch the Pirates to a series victory.