The Pirates needed a win tonight. They needed James McDonald to step up, and they needed the offense to step up. Both sides took that seriously. JMac pitched 7 shutout innings, and the Pirates’ 9 runs were highlighted by Pedro Alvarez’s 2 homeruns.
JMac simply shut down the Cardinals lineup tonight. He gave up just 2 hits over his 7 innings of work. He walked only 1 Cardinals batter. He struck out 6, but he got the plays he needed from his defense behind him. “Just being aggressive was the main focus for me tonight,” JMac said after the game. He also gave credit to the offense and defense. “They swung the bat really well tonight, played good defense, just fired me up to keep pitching and keep us in the game.” JMac improved to 12 and 6 with tonight’s game and lowered his ERA to 3.57. “James needs to continue to seek greatness and accept nothing less, to be the very best he can be every time he goes out there and accept nothing less,” Clint Hurdle said after the game. Chris Resop loaded the bases in the 8th inning and escaped without letting the Cardinals score. Hisanori Takahashi pitched a perfect 9th inning.
The Pirates struck early, starting their scoring in the 1st inning on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones. Two more runs came in the 3rd inning on Pedro’s first homerun of the game, a 2-run shot to center field. They scored 4 more runs in the 5th on a Pedro Alvarez RBI double, a Michael McKenry RBI single, and a Clint Barmes 2-run single. Pedro homered again in the 6th inning, a 469-foot shot to center. “The ball looked like it was gonna hit the bridge,” Hurdle said. “That’s a whole bunch of feet.” Travis Snider drove in the 9th and final run of the game in the 7th inning with a triple. Pedro was 4 for 4 tonight with a single, a double, and 2 homeruns. “I was just up there trying to put a good swing on the ball, trying not to do too much,” Pedro said after the game. “Hit it hard, good things happen.” Pedro mentioned the fan support, as a lot of players have this year. “We just gotta keep playing so we can have them on our backs,” he said. In his last at-bat tonight in the 8th inning, Pedro struck out, but that didn’t really matter. “I told him, ‘All you gotta do is, you get 4 hits, you hit 2 homers, and they’ll clap for you when you strike out around here,'” Hurdle joked. “He was able to show you why we feel the way we feel about him.”
The Pirates almost scored another run in the 2nd inning after Jose Tabata singled to right field with Josh Harrison on 2nd base. JHay ran hard and didn’t let anything stop him, including Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Unfortunately, Molina held on to the ball. Also unfortunately, Molina took a while to get back up. When he did, he seemed a bit dazed. JHay’s forearm seemed to have hit Molina in the head and knock him down. Thankfully, Molina was able to walk off the field, and he did not have a concussion, just a strained shoulder/neck/back. “It’s an old-fashioned baseball play,” Hurdle said. “You never like to see people hurt. I hope Molina’s not hurt. He took the plate away from Josh; Josh had nowhere to go.” Josh Harrison also was clearly relieved, applauding when Molina walked off the field. “He was blocking the plate,” JHay said. “You never want anybody to get hurt; it’s just a part of the game. Prayers to him, never want that to happen, but you know, it’s part of the game.” Yadier Molina was also asked about the play after the game. He is sore and has a killer headache but seemed OK. “That’s life. That’s baseball,” he said.
It was good to see the pitching, defense, and offense come together so perfectly tonight. “Defensively we really showed up a couple times,” Hurdle said. “We put the swings on a very good pitcher. It was a very very complete game effort.”
It’s obvious how important this win was. Pedro Alvarez acknowledged it; Clint Hurdle wouldn’t go there. “This was the most important game we played all day,” Hurdle said. “I’m glad we won it.”