The Pirates just won two games in a row in which their starters pitched five innings. That’s not five innings in each start, that’s five innings total over two games by Jeff Karstens and James McDonald. Today the big boost from the bullpen came from Brad Lincoln, who took over after James McDonald was pinch-hit for in the top of the fifth inning and kept the Diamondbacks off of the scoreboard over the next three, striking out four and allowing just one hit. For a guy that presumably woke up in Indianapolis this morning, I think that’s a pretty impressive effort.
The Pirates’ offense needed him to shut the D’Backs down, too, because after they failed to take advantage of Daniel Hudson’s wildness in the first inning, Hudson shut them down until he hung a belt-high changeup to Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez crushed the meatball over the right field fence for his second homer (and second hit of the season), then the top of the lineup (Barmes, McCutchen, Walker) rallied for a second run in the top of the eighth and even without Joel Hanrahan, that was enough of a lead for the bullpen.
It’s pretty impressive how quickly the Pirates turned this road trip around. After two games in San Francisco, the Pirates had dropped the first five games of the trip and were sitting at 2-6 and being just generally depressing. They took a game from the Giants on Sunday, then dropped what was a pretty ugly game for them on Monday night. Suddenly, though, they managed to sneak out two wins against a good Diamondback team and they somehow did it without the benefit of almost any starting pitching. Both games were close and both were games that the Pirates probably could’ve broken open sooner than they did, but wins are wins and coming into this weekend’s homestand at 5-7 is a pretty good place for the Pirates to be compared to where they stood on Sunday morning.