The long rain delay in the fourth inning put a bit of a damper on this one, but the Pirates came out of the gates firing on all cylinders against Edwin Jackson and the Cubs this afternoon. In the first inning Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen both singled and stole bases, with McCutchen's hit driving Marte in and a Mike McKenry single driving McCutchen home. In the second, Marte singled again and Travis Snider tripled him home (also: check out this picture of Snider giving the Zoltan face down on third base), and McCutchen singled Snider home. It took a long time for those four runs to hold up, but eventually they did.
Vin Mazzaro in particular deserves a hat-tip in this win. The rain delay came just as Jeanmar Gomez was hitting a rough patch, leaving runners on first and third with two outs after the Cubs tallied their first run. Mazzaro came in and got the final out of the fourth, then cruised through the fifth and sixth to give the Pirates the equivalent of a strong start even after the rain delay. I was as skeptical of the Pirates' acquisitions of both Mazzaro and Gomez this winter and while I'm still skeptical of Gomez's ability to be a useful starter long-term, Mazzaro's been a really pleasant surprise out of the bullpen and I think there's a chance that he could be a pretty decent swing-man over the course of the season. Knowing that there's a guy like that in the bullpen is certainly a huge help in games like today's.
The sweep of the Cubs is the Pirates' second sweep of the season, and it puts them at 29-18. After splitting with the Mariners, the Pirates have rolled off 11 wins in 14 games against the Mets, Brewers, Astros, and Cubs. That's how good teams are supposed to take care of business against bad teams. I know that's a cliche, but it's one heck of a good feeling to know that it applies to the Pirates at this point in the season, and not in the way that it has in the past.