Pittsburgh Pirates Take Series Opener against Division Rival Cardinals


Behind a flurry of hits and solid pitching, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the NL Central leading Cardinals on Friday night. Three Pirates would collect two RBIs a piece as the team collected a feel-good comeback win.

Friday night PNC Park hosted an inter-division matchup of two NL Central teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates (61-79) and the St. Louis Cardinals (79-61). Somehow the Cardinals seem to always find themselves at the top of the NL Central – and 2019 is no exception. With only one month of play left, the Cardinals are up 2.5 games on the Cubs, giving the Pirates a great opportunity to create some drama with a series win.

The starting pitchers on Friday night were Alex McRae for the Pirates and Miles Mikolas for the Cardinals. On paper, McRae’s ERA of 9.98 and Mikolas’s ERA of 4.32 clearly favored the Cardinals.

After watching McRae through the first two innings, it would have been easy to imagine a disaster scenario for the Pirates. McRae was leaving pitch after pitch in the middle of the strike zone and was getting hit hard. However, McRae would keep his composure and give the Pirates five solid innings of two run ball. The only damage was done in the 2nd by a 2-run homer off the bat of Tommy Edman. The Pirates supported McRea with solid defense that included a spectacular catch by Bryan Reynolds in the 5th.

Mikolas matched McRae and only gave up one run over his five inning outing. The run would come in the 3rd off of an Adam Frazier single and a Kevin Newman 2-out double. However, after the starters left the game, it would not take long for runs to start coming across the plate.

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In the 6th, the Tyler Webb was sent to the mound to represent the Cardinals and Michael Feliz was sent to the mound to represent the Pirates. Both pitchers would pitch a clean inning. Feliz has been a pleasant surprise for the Pirates over the last few months as he has just given up five runs over his last 16 outings.

Richard Rodriguez took the mound in the 7th for the Pirates and gave up a quick two runs. Unable to finish the inning, Rodriguez was replaced by recently acquired Wei-Chung Wang who would get the final two outs. Up until the 7th, the Pirates bats were silent, but the Cardinals needed three different pitchers to hold back the Bucs bats in the inning.

John Gant, Andrew Miller, and John Brebbia only got one out a piece for the Cardinals in the 7th. These three pitchers had their hands full as the Pirates batted around in the inning. Cole Tucker started the rally for the Pirates with a single, followed in quick succession by four more singles off the bats of Starling Marte, Josh Bell, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Osuna. Adam Frazier would then clear the bases for the Bucs with a trip-trip-triple. When all was said and done, the Pirates put 6 runs up in the 7th.

Even though the Pirates did not need anymore runs, they tacked on another two in the 8th against Mike Myers. Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds and Starling Marte all contributed, continuing the trend of the Pirates getting solid run production from the top of their lineup. Unlike the Cardinal’s bullpen, Felipe Vazquez locked down the game for the Pirates with three strikeouts over four outs and the Pirates won the ball game by a score of 9-4.

Overall, this was a great win for the Pirates bats behind a solid outing from McRea. The win was reminiscent of wins from earlier in the season where the Pirates would defy the odds and pull out a victory. Hopefully, the Pirates can continue to play solid games the rest of September and give fans hope for the 2020 season.