I see that there’s some big news that’s broken between when I was last at my computer (which was at the end of this game) and now, but let’s handle the recap first and Polanco second.
For at least one night, Charlie Morton helped allay my fears about this Cubs’ series with one of his best performances as a Pirate. His final line was 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, but honestly, the one run that he allowed was on a single that snuck off of Pedro Alvarez’s glove and through the shift, followed by a really bad Travis Snider outfield route that ended in an RBI double. Had Morton not allowed that one run, we could’ve been looking at a CGSHO for him tonight; even with all those strikeouts, he got through his seven innings on 82 pitches and most of the contact the Cubs had against him was really weak. Obviously this was great to see; Morton’s been up and down all year and it’s been hard to quantify his solid ERA and decent peripherals with the ridiculous number of unearned runs. Seeing him put together a really good start from beginning to end is a great sign, even if it was just against the Cubs.
Of course, there was plenty of good offense to go around for Morton tonight. Andrew McCutchen did a lot of the heavy lifting early with two ridiculous opposite-field swings that resulted in a home run that was almost foul on right field and a double that was maybe a few yards away from being his second home run over the Clemente Wall. Those two hits accounted for three of the Pirates’ first four runs, and it gave Morton the cushion he needed. A couple of struggling Pirates also had big nights; Starling Marte doubled in the first run and had three hits (two doubles) on the night. Ike Davis nearly followed McCutchen’s homer up with one of his own in the third inning and then finally put his own shot over the fence in the eighth for some extra insurance. Pedro Alvarez had a double and a single and very quietly has his batting average up to .239 and his OPS+ over 100.
Really, it was just a solid all-around effort, which created an easy win against a bad team. The pitching matchups at the end of this four-game series look kind of dicey, so getting off to a strong start in this one was important.