Here’s what I can tell you about last night’s torturously long, blearily late Pirates/Padres game: every time I woke up and found the game still on, the Pirates had the bases loaded. The Pirates loaded the bases in the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings last night, though they didn’t actually get any damage done with the bases loaded until the seventh inning. Pretty much every pitcher the Padres put out on the mound last night looked terrible. Bud Black guessed right by pulling Tim Stauffer before the end of the third inning, but the bullpen gave up five walks, 12 and eight runs in 6 1/3 innings pitched. The Pirates drew seven walks total to go with their 16 hits, they scored 10 runs in all, and they still left 16 runners on base. There’s a reason this game took more than four hours.
That means that sorting through the offensive stars from this one will take a while: Jordy Mercer started the scoring with a home run and he ended the night with four hits and four runs scored to go with his two RBIs. Neil Walker had three hits and drove three runs in. Josh Harrison was 3-for-6, scored a run, and drove in a run. Gaby Sanchez had a pinch-hit double that scored two. Andrew McCutchen was having a rough night until his ground-rule double that drove in a run and finished the scoring. Pedro Alvarez had two hits. Starling Marte scored twice. And so on and so on.
Charlie Morton continued his interesting/uneven season as he picked up his second win and struck out a career high nine hitters, but had to be pulled after five innings. That was because in his first four innings, he put four runners on base with walks and HBPs despite not giving up a hit, then the wheels came off in the fifth and he barely escaped the inning with the Pirates’ lead intact. Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson, and Jeanmar Gomez did a nice job finishing the game off for him, and the offense made that an easy task.
After getting blown out in the first game of the second Orioles series, the Pirates are 9-4. Their starters have pitched well enough to earn six of those nine wins, after getting (by my count) five wins in the team’s first 18 games. Wins aren’t a great stat, but I think that that comparison is pretty telling. The Pirates have scored 53 runs (again, by my count) in those 13 games. When the Pirates fell down their ugly early-season rabbit hole, I said that I thought their best hope to be relevant this season was to get back to .500 by the time of Polanco’s promotion, and to have the rotation recover to a point that Polanco could help make the offense a truly dynamic unit to make a difference for them. I’m not sure that they’re completely there yet, but they’re a lot closer to it than I honestly thought they’d get at the end of April.