Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez shined at the plate and in the field tonight. They each had two hits, including a homer. Francisco Liriano pitched 6.2 strong innings, and the Pirates came out with a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Last time the Pirates played in Anaheim was in 2007, and they were swept by the Angels. 2013 is different. The Buccos have already secured themselves a series win, and tonight’s win put them a season-high 15 games over .500.
The Pirates wasted no time jumping on Angels starter Jerome Williams tonight. Pedro Alvarez batted second in the second inning and hammered the 1-1 pitch to right field for a solo homerun and the Pirates’ first run of the game. It was Pedro’s 18th homerun of the year and put him at 50 RBIs. Gaby Sanchez followed up with a single and scored three batters later on Jordy Mercer’s RBI single to left. Starling Marte reached on an error to load the bases, and Russell Martin walked to drive in Travis Snider.
After just an inning and a half, the Pirates had a 3-0 lead. They weren’t done yet, of course. Neil Walker doubled to lead off the fourth inning, and Travis Snider singled him in. Andrew McCutchen was the second batter of the fifth inning and hit a solo shot of his own to put the Pirates up, 5-0.
Francisco Liriano worked himself out of a jam in the third inning with help from Gaby Sanchez’s stellar defense. “It all starts off with positioning. I’m gonna take away where you’re mostly going to hit it,” Gaby explained after the game. “Then it’s just second nature.”
Liriano almost got himself into real trouble in the fourth inning. Howie Kendrick doubled with one out in the fourth, and the next two batters singled. Kendrick tried to score on that second single, but Starling Marte and his strong arm had other ideas. A three-hopper to the plate allowed Martin to tag out Kendrick at home and prevent the Angels’ first run. Liriano walked the next batter but then struck out J.B. Shuck to end the inning.
He wasn’t so lucky in the seventh inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Liriano gave up an RBI single to Mike Trout to give the Angels their first (and only) run of the game. Bryan Morris relieved Liriano, and after walking Pujols, he struck out Mark Trumbo to end the inning.
Gaby Sanchez came to bat with two outs in the eighth inning and decided he’d add an insurance run. He hit a the 1-0 pitch off the left-field foul pole for his sixth homerun of the year and a 6-1 Pirates lead.
Justin Wilson took over the mound with one out in the eighth inning and finished off a beautiful Pirates’ win.
The Cardinals helped out with a loss to the Rangers, and the Reds lost in walkoff fashion after taking the lead in the ninth inning. The Pirates’ 45-30 record puts them just 2 games out of first place behind the Cardinals and now a game and a half ahead of the Reds.
Gaby was his usual humble self after the game and talked about the way this team works together. “I think it’s been all team play. It just shows what we can do when we’re all out there and when we’re all having fun.” He was also asked about the platoon situation with him and Garrett Jones. “I don’t think we think about it,” Gaby responded. “We know what we’re gonna do. We know when we have to go out there. We root for each other.” They even went to the movies together. They saw Man of Steel. Gaby liked it; Garrett didn’t.
The Pirates look to turn things all the way around and sweep the Angels tomorrow. Charlie Morton (1-1, 1.74 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Pirates. Joe Blanton (1-10, 5.62 ERA) will start for the Angels.