On Monday starting pitcher Doug Fister and Jameson Taillon had a pitchers duel that Taillon lost when center fielder Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer. Taillon pitched eight solid innings but the offense only mustered five hits and didn’t score until the ninth.
Ivan Nova threw a complete game on Tuesday by striking out six, walking one, and scattering six hits. He didn’t allow a run until the ninth. The offense broke out in a big way by scoring seven runs, and Gregory Polanco led the way with his second career two-home run game.
The rubber game on Wednesday was close but ended in a 5-4 loss for the Pirates. Gerrit Cole continued to struggle and was charged with all five runs.
Pittsburgh then traveled to play the Milwaukee Brewers, where they have had very little success. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen apparently had seen enough losing in Milwaukee as he was the offense; hitting an RBI single and a solo home run in the first three innings.
Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl held the fort until center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a two-run moonshot to right field and tied the game. The game went into extra innings and McCutchen promptly scored John Jaso for the final run of the game.
Closer Tony Watson came in to close the game and allowed a leadoff hit, but quickly sat down the next three batters. It was Pittsburgh’s first win at Milwaukee in nine games this season.
Friday was mostly quiet until the sixth inning. Two errors by Brewers shortstop Jonathan Villar allowed two Pirates to reach base. Starling Marte then hit an RBI double and Francisco Cervelli was intentionally walked to bring Jordy Mercer to the plate. Mercer fell behind in an 0-2 count before hitting his first career grand slam.
The Brewers quickly struck back with a three-run home run, but that ended scoring for the day. Saturday’s game was a back-and-forth affair that looked bleak for the Pirates as they found themselves down 5-0 in the fourth. Then they strung together four hits to score five runs.
The game was tied 6-6 in the sixth when Polanco came into pinch hit with the bases loaded. He laced a line drive in the gap to clear the bases and ensuring a series win. Nova pitched well for six innings and solo shots from Jaso, Polanco, and Marte led the Pirates to a four-game sweep over the Brewers.
- 8/22 Astros 3, Pirates 1
- 8/23 Astros 1, Pirates 7
- 8/24 Astros 5, Pirates 4
- 8/25 Pirates 3, Brewers 2/10 innings
- 8/26 Pirates 5, Brewers 3
- 8/27 Pirates 9, Brewers 6
- 8/28 Pirates 3, Brewers 1
Notables in the Week:
- The Cole train in for repairs: Cole has struggled in his last five starts (6.08 ERA) and will now miss his next start. He has complained about elbow discomfort and is headed to Los Angeles to get a second opinion on his arm. Steven Brault will be called up to take his spot. As much as Cole has been struggling, the Pirates need him healthy to make the playoffs. The Pirates can only hope it is only a minor injury that will allow Cole to come back before the end of the season.
- Who doesn’t love a heart attack: The tying run made it to the plate in every game against the Brewers. Neftali Feliz and Watson both contributed to the cardio workouts of Pirate fans. Although it made the game a little too exciting, both men shut down the Brewers when they had to and escaped with the save.
- The curse is broken?: For years the Pirates have come into Miller Park and left with a series loss. This weekend the Pirates made history when they swept the Brewers in four games for the very first time. Perhaps the devil magic of Miller Park is broken, or at least gone for the rest of the year.
- McCutchen on fire: Pirate fans waited all season for McCutchen to return to his usual form. Over the last month he has shown steady improvement and now the worry is that McCutchen will regress at a bad time. Well that time wasn’t this week because McCutchen hit .381/.458/.619 with one home run, five RBIs, and three walks.
- Josh Bell’s First Week: Since starting at first base he has hit .318 with three RBIs, seven walks, and only two strikeouts. He’s been a decent hitter and was slotted in the two spot against the Brewers where he showed a very mature approach at the plate. Unfortunately, he’s made two errors and shown he still needs work at first base. However, his offense more than makes up for his bat and Pirates fans can rest easy knowing that this will not be a repeat of the Pedro Alvarez saga.
- Solid starts: Another week has passed and yet again four of the starters had good outings. Taillon pitched twice this week, the first a one-run, eight-inning gem, the other a not so great outing that netted five runs and lasted five innings. Kuhl and Nova both went at least five innings and gave up less than three runs. Nova also threw a complete game on Tuesday. Ryan Vogelsong continues to pitch strong following his injury. He currently has a 2.09 ERA since coming back from his injury.
Need to know transactions:
-3B David Freese signed a 2-year contract for $11 million, with a $6 million team option for 2019.
The Wild Card Race: The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals led the Pirates by a couple games before this week. The Pirates have now leapfrogged the Marlins and are breathing down the Cardinals’ necks. The Marlins and the Giants have already finished their series with the Pirates, but there are still six games against the Cardinals. The games against St. Louis may determine the NL Wild Card.
- 1st WC: San Francisco Giants: 2.5 games ahead of the 2nd WC spot, 5-5 in last 10 games.
- 2nd WC: St. Louis Cardinals: 0.5 games ahead of the Pirates, 5-5 in last 10 games.
- Miami Marlins: 1 game behind the Pirates, 5-5 in last 10 games.
- New York Mets: 2 games behind the Pirates, 6-4 in last 10 games.
- Colorado Rockies: 6 games behind the Pirates, 5-5 in last 10 games.
Next week: The Pirates continue their road trip next week when they face the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs for three games. Pittsburgh doesn’t really have a shot at the NL Central title, but they can’t afford to give up wins when they are only a half-game out of the wild card. Thursday is an off day for the Pirates before they play 17 straight games. The first of those games are against the Brewers at home. Pittsburgh swept the Brewers this week and will look for more of the same.