We cannot call it the game that will “turn it all around.” We’ve been there. We’ve done that. But last night, fans caught a glimpse of the Pirates from July. Pure domination.
James McDonald started the game and took the Pirates through 7 innings without giving up a run to the St. Louis Cardinals. JMac is 12-6 on the season, but three of his losses came within his last 7 starts, and unfortunately his last 10 games have driven his ERA up to 5.63. But last night, the JMac from the beginning of the season, who is largely responsible along with AJ Burnett for the Pirates’ current winning record, seems to have worked out his recent issues on the mound.
The biggest story of the night though is Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez has been streaky with his hitting. Much like Garrett Jones, he is a power hitter and not as likely to put the ball on the ground. The last month of play, El Torro hasn’t done much to display his power, but last night he jacked two home runs. The first he pulled from the inside 422 feet to the opposite field. The other went clear out of the park at center field for 469 feet, the longest home run by any Pirate since PNC Park opened in 2001. That’s an absolute monster shot. Alvarez ended the night with 4 hits at 5 at bats in addition to a great performance on the field.
The Pirates shut out the Cards 0-9, also seeing the first appearance of closer Hisonori Takahashi. Takahashi was lights out. Three up, three down.
The Pirates need to win tonight against the Cards to take the series. There are 30 games left in the season with two series against the Brewers and the Reds. Wandy Rodriguez’s underwhelming performance to date must turn around tonight as he starts against Joe Kelly. Interestingly enough, both of these pitchers closed the last time the Buccos and Cards met in the game that went 19 innings.
Additionally, Josh Harrison steam rolled All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, putting him out of the game and out of the series with back, neck, and shoulder injury.
There is still a chance at the Wildcard, but the Buccos have to take this series and push the Cards back another game before they head to another road series in Washington.