After shutting out the St. Louis Cardinals in gmae one of their four-game series on Tursday night, the Cardinals returned the favor by shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates in game two
Thursday night saw the Pittsburgh Pirates get off to a great start on their seven-game road trip. A 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals set a great tone for the four-game series at Busch Stadium and the road trip as a whole.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, one night after shutting out the Cardinals the Red Birds would return the favor. Following a 3-0 loss that saw the Pirates waste a terrific starting pitching performance and multiple scoring opportunites, they are now 1-1 in this series and 8-6 overall this season.
Johan Oviedo shoves agaisnt his old team
Facing his former team for the first time in 2023, and third time since being traded to the Pittbsurgh Pirates last July, Johan Oviedo turned in one of the best starts of his MLB career. This marked back-to-back starts for Oviedo that are in the discussion for the best off his MLB career.
Oviedo pitched 7 spectacular innings for the Pirates. He allowed just 1 run on six hits, a walk, and 10 strikeouts. Oviedo allowed 5 runs on a trio of home runs in his 1st inning of the season against the Boston Red Sox. Since then, he has allowed 1 run in 17.1 innings pitched.
This marked just the third time in his young MLB career that Oviedo pitched 7 full innings. He struck out a career high 10 batters while generating 13 swings-and-misses. Throughout the start Oviedo had his former team off balance and uncomfortable at the plate.
Oviedo's start was driven by a power fastball that regularly sat in the upper-90s, nearly touching 100 MPH multiple times. His slider served as an absolute weapon in the start and was nearly unhittable for Cardinal batters.
Pirate offense wastes scoring opportunities
Cardinal starter Jake Woodford had struggled mightily through his first two starts this season. Even though he allowed seven hits, plenty of hard contact, hit a batter, and issued a walk in 5.1 innings pitched, with the help of the Pirate offense he managed to post a zero.
The 2nd inning saw the Pirates load the bases with just one out. Jack Suwinski singled and Rodolfo Castro singled, then Mark Mathias walked with one out. Austin Hedges then grounded out to third base for an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play.
In the 4th inning Canaan Smith-Njigba singled with two outs and stole second base. Mathias then lined a base hit into shallow right field. Mike Rabello decided to send Smith-Njigba, and he was thrown out at the plate easily to end the inning.
Hedges doubled to start the 5th inning but was stranded. This included a terrific running grab by Tyler O'Neill that robbed Andrew McCutchen of extra bases and an RBI to end the inning. With two outs in the 7th inning Ji Hwan Bae singled and stole second base, but was stranded when Bryan Reynolds struck out.
In total, the Pirates went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base. It was also a very frustrating night for the Pirate offense. 13 of the 15 hardest hit balls of the night came from Pirate batters. However, line drive outs, atom balls, and good defensive plays from the Cardinals thwarted this in the loss.
Cardinals add to their lead in the 8th inning
Entering the bottom of the 8th inning the Cardinal lead was just 1-0, but they would add two big insurance runs. Duane Underwood Jr. would strikeout Paul Goldschmidt looking for the first out of the inning, but that would be the lone out he recorded of the five batters he faced.
It was a frustrating outing for Underwood Jr., highlighted by a weakly hit bloop single to right field for Willson Contreras to bring in a run. This came after he walked Nolan Arenado, even though ball three was nowhere near a ball.
After Underwood Jr. got into trouble he was lifted for Robert Stephenson. After starting the season on the injured list, Stephenson got a fly out and strikeout in his first MLB appearanced of the 2023 season.
Roansy Contreras (8.00 ERA, 4.28 FIP) will be looking for a bounce back start after struggling agaisnt the Houston Astros in his last start. Veteran lefty Steven Matz (8.18 ERA, 4.57 FIP) will also be louncing to bounce back after allowing 6 earned runs in his last start. First pitch from Busch Stadium is scheduled for 2:15 PM ET.