Pirate bullpen pitches lights out
Without a doubt the biggest surprise of the road trip was how well the Pirate bullpen pitched. Entering the season there was legitimate reason to fear this group could be the worst in the National League and one of the worst in all of baseball. Yes, it's a small sample size, but the bullpen capped off a strong road with a great series at Fenway Park.
Facing a potent Red Sox lineup the Pirate bullpen allowed just 1 run in 10.2 innings pitched. The lone run that scored came on Monday night when Duane Underwood Jr. sawed Adam Duvall's bat in half, but the ball dropped in shallow left field allowing a run he inherited to score.
It was a group effort from the Pirate bullpen. Colin Holderman and David Bednar each pitched a scoreless inning in both Monday and Tuesday's victories. This included some excellent work by Holderman to work out of a two on with one out situation in the 8th inning on Monday.
Rule 5 Draft addition Jose Hernandez got a huge out in Tuesday night's victory when he stuck out Christian Arroyo looking to end the 7th inning. Dauri Moreta continues his bullpen ascent by stranding two runners while getting the final out of the 5th inning in game one, then in game two he got the final out of the 6th and the first two outs of the 7th.
Lefty Rob Zastrzny continued his strong start to the season during the series as well. He allowed a run in game one, but also struck out a pair, then fired a 1-2-3 8th inning in game three. This was followed by a 9th inning by Underwood Jr. where he flipped a double play after allowing a lead off single, then induced a pop out to end the game.
The bullpen took on a larger workload than Shelton and his staff would have liked in games one and two. This led to the team being without their three best relievers in game three, but Zastryzny and Underwood Jr. stepped up to slam the door on the Red Sox and complete the sweep.