Marlins series? What Marlins series? I have no idea what you’re talking about. Just two days have passed and it feels like losing two out of three over the weekend never happened. The Pittsburgh Pirates took both games of today’s doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals which resulted in three things.
1. They already won the five game series.
2. They took a 1 1/2 game lead in the NL Central.
3. They have a 1/2 game lead for the best record in baseball.
The first game set the tone for the day from an emotional standpoint. Pedro Alvarez and Matt Holliday had each driven in runs. It was a 1-1 game most of the way through. In the sixth inning, Russell Martin made a boneheaded play on a strikeout of Jon Jay. The ball hit Jay and instead of calling it a dead ball, the play went on. Martin argued with umpire Eric Cooper instead of picking up the ball and Jay advanced to second base. On the next pitch, Burnett threw a pitch right down the middle that got ruled a ball. Burnett threw his arms up in the air and Cooper went towards the mound to exchange some words with Burnett. And if we know anything about Burnett, it’s that he likes to pitch pissed off. He promptly got the next three outs to end the inning. The game ended up going into extras and Alex Presley ended it in the bottom of the 11th on a single that deflected off of pitcher Kevin Siegrist‘s glove and into the outfield to score Martin from second.
Thanks to the first game going to extras, the second game started a little late but it was well worth the wait. Each team started a pitcher who was called up to be the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader. Brandon Cumpton pitched for the Pirates and was brilliant. Seven innings of shutout ball to get his first major league win. Tyler Lyons was not as good for the Cardinals. The first run of the game was scored by Jose Tabata on a passed ball by Yadier Molina who was eventually removed from the game with a knee injury. The score remained 1-0 until the fifth inning. Starling Marte led off the inning with one of three triples for the Pirates in this game. Jordy Mercer brought him in with a single. Andrew McCutchen followed that up with his 15th home run of the season….if that’s what you want to call it. The ball was hit deep to left field. Holliday had a good beat on it and looked as if he was going to rob the home run but the ball hit off of the heel of his glove and went into the seats. The Pirates added two more runs in the seventh on RBI’s by Gaby Sanchez and Tony Sanchez.
Player of the Game: Brandon Cumpton
Going into the day, it was a bit of a mystery as to who would start the second game of the doubleheader for the Pirates. We knew it wouldn’t be Jeanmar Gomez because he isn’t stretched out due to his bullpen usage. That left the options as Cumpton or Stolmy Pimentel. The Pirates went with Cumpton who has pitched in the majors this year. But not this well. Not even the biggest Pirate optimist could have envisioned this performance. He went deep into the game, pitching seven inning, and he did it efficiently throwing a low number of pitches. If that was a veteran pitcher, he’s probably given the opportunity to finish the game himself. He struck out five while only walking one. In his major league starts this season, he has an ERA under one in the first five innings of games he has pitched. Today, he showed he can go beyond that.
Play of the Game: A.J. Burnett
There are so many choices for the biggest play of these two games. But Burnett is the vocal leader of this team and he showed it during the Ump Show that was occurring in the sixth inning. After Martin’s gaffe in the sixth inning, Burnett took the bull by the horns and ended the Cardinal threat and he did it emphatically. Burnett has had his issues this year but when it comes to situations like this, no one is better.
Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, 7:05pm
Why should winning the series be enough? Why should first place be enough? Now it’s time to send a message. The Pirates will look to do that by taking the first four games of this series behind the left arm of Jeff Locke. Locke has faced the Cardinals once already this year and his line in that game was almost identical to Cumpton’s line today. That game was a 9-0 Pirate win.
One All-Star will be facing another as Adam Wainwright will be on the hill for the Cardinals. He has yet to face the Pirates this season but if his overall performance is any indication, it will not be an easy task for the Bucco offense.