Over the weekend in Colorado, the Pirates scored two runs combined off of Brett Anderson, Tyler Matzek, and Franklin Morales. That seemed to more or less make official the idea that the Pirates just cannot hit left-handed pitching this year, particularly not while Starling Marte is on the disabled list. The first two games of that series against the woeful Rockies were ugly 8-1 losses, and that caused pretty much every Pirate fan to pump the breaks on the Pirate Playoff Bandwagon.
So with that firmly implanted in everyone’s brains, the Pirates came out, tagged Bumgarner for four runs in the first inning and added a fifth on in the second with a Josh Harrison homer, and then they left it up to Vance Worley from there. Worley took a perfect game into the fifth inning, faced the minimum through seven thanks to two double plays and a caught-stealing, and came up one pitch shy of a “Maddux,” that is a sub-100 pitch complete game shutout. He ended at 100 pitches on the dot, holding the Giants to four hits and a walk to go with his three strikeouts. The only Giant to reach third base was Hunter Pence, who tripled in the penultimate at-bat of the game. This start was impressive enough that when coupled with Edinson Volquez’s recent control problems, I’m starting to reconsider the idea that Worley will lose his rotation spot when Gerrit Cole returns. That, however, is a question for another day.
It’s probably worth noting that the Pirates were almost as meek as the Giants at the plate over the game’s last seven innings, but given the strong start by the offense and Worley’s mastery, I’ll let that slide for now. I will also make note that the Pirates only have two complete games this year, one thrown by Edinson Volquez and now tonight’s shutout by Worley. Jim Benedict and Ray Searage are really, really good at their jobs.
This win coupled with Sunday’s offensive outburst goes a long ways towards erasing the bad taste from Friday and Saturday. The Pirates are halfway to an important series win against the Giants, they’re two games back of the Brewers, and they’re a half-game behind the Giants for the second wild card.