The Pirates’ box score is fun tonight. Starting at the top of the lineup, Josh Harrison had one hit, Gregory Polanco had one hit, Jordy Mercer had one hit, Russell Martin had one hit, Starling Marte had one hit, Gaby Sanchez had one hit, Ike Davis relieved Gaby Sanchez part way through the game and had one hit of his own, and then way down in the seven spot, Travis Snider had two hits. Somehow all of those hits pieced together exactly how the Pirates needed them to in order to take home a 4-2 win. Martin’s one hit was a second inning double, which was followed two hitters later by Sanchez’s one hit, which was also a double. Snider followed that up with a double of his own, to drive Sanchez home. In the third inning, Josh Harrison got his one hit (a double), and then two hitters later Jordy Mercer got his one hit, singling him home. In the sixth inning, after the Tigers pulled to 3-2 on an Alex Avila homer in the fourth, Starling Marte drew a walk and Ike Davis doubled him home.
The timely hitting was a perfect accent on some strong pitching performances. Edinson Volquez held the Tigers to two runs in his six innings, striking out five and walking two. This is now Volquez’s third straight start of 5+ strikeouts, which is only the second time he’s pulled the feat off this year. Justin Wilson and Tony Watson pitched perfect innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively, and Mark Melancon closed the game down without incident despite allowing two hits in the ninth.
The win is the Pirates’ second in as many games against the Tigers. The Tigers, as you recall, were widely lauded at the trade deadline for swooping in and nabbing David Price, despite what some people considered to be a better offer made by the Pirates. Since then, the Pirates have lost two of their best offensive players for an extended period of time and banished a third to the bench for defensive purposes. With these two wins, the Pirates hold the National League’s first wild card spot with a 1 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals and Giants, who are tied for the second spot. The Tigers, meanwhile, are the AL’s second wild card team, just 1/2 game up on the Blue Jays.
I’m not trying to say that the Pirates were right or the Tigers were wrong for what they did at the trade deadline — obviously there’s plenty of baseball left and it’d be stupid to make those sorts of proclamations now. I’m just pointing out what an exceptionally weird baseball season this has been. It’s just clicked over to midnight on August 13th. Andrew McCutchen is on the disabled list, Neil Walker is not on the disabled list but he’s not playing, Gerrit Cole is in the middle of a loooong rehab assignment for a lat injury, the Pirates are opening up the hardest part of their schedule, and yet, they find themselves in arguably the best position they’ve been in, standings-wise, since April. I have no idea where this season is headed from here, and I’m not really sure anyone can at this point.
36 hours ago I would’ve been exceptionally happy with two wins in these four games against Detroit. The Pirates have them, and suddenly they’re playing well and the Tigers are mired in a four-game losing streak. Might as well go for the jugular.