The Pirates beat the Arizona D-Bags (sorry, I had to get this out of my system early in this post because I’m overcome by my most base, childish instincts and can’t help myself) 8-3 this afternoon to complete a three game sweep in a series full of chippiness, HBP that were unintentional, HBP that were intentional, Gerrit Cole making faces at the D-Backs bench, and Tony La Russa forgetting that he’s an adult.
Most of the comments to make about this situation have already been made. This goes back several years to the Goldschmidt/McCutchen HBP debacle, Caminero has no control and he didn’t mean to hit anyone, and Tony La Russa is a crazy old man. (I really would have liked for him and Greg Brown to have had a physical fight, though. Brownie seems like a big softie, but for some reason, I could see him just whupping up on someone like La Russa in a fight. And you know that Bob Walk would be running over from the radio booth to defend his friend if he caught wind of that, and Bob Walk is someone you don’t mess with.) So I’ll skip it and we’ll get to the baseball in this series, of which there were three favorable results for the Pirates in three trials that put them only 4.5 games back from the Cubs and 4 ahead of the Cards heading into the weekend.
Gregory Polanco had himself a hell of a series and has been on a tear lately; do not underestimate where those long giraffe legs will take him in the future. In these three games, he was 7-13 with 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, and 6 RBI. He also made a really nice sliding grab in shallow RF to save a run today:
It’s been really amazing to watch him turn into the player people have been waiting two years to see and he’s currently 3rd in the NL in WAR. If he hasn’t been getting notice all season for his exploits, he should be after this week.
Gerrit Cole had an uncharacteristic start today. He only generated 9 whiffs in his 105 pitches (8.6%), significantly below his career rate of 20.6%.
Furthermore, there were a ton of baserunners in his five innings, although he navigated the heavy traffic like a motorcycle during rush hour and held the D-Backs to 1 run in his 5 innings, which was unearned due to a missed catch error when David Freese and Francisco Cervelli collided in foul territory on the first batter of the game. However, he more than made up for his lack of efficiency pitching with his offensive contributions, including this three-run homer into the bullpen:
One can only assume that Greg Brown was giving Tony La Russa the finger during his entire call of that play. Also, check out how Cole gave a little “fuck you” look into the D-Backs dugout as he crossed the plate (I know, I said I wouldn't get into it, but the D-Backs get my blood hot):
Cole also hit his first career double in the game, which seems strange given my perception of him as a good hitting pitcher who’s been in the league for a few years already.
Regardless, he had a hell of a game and, despite not getting the win, was a big reason the Pirates completed the sweep today. The rest of the Pirates offense continued to roll. Depending on what stats you look at, they’re either the second or third best offense in baseball, behind the Red Sox and maybe the Cubs. Right behind them is the Cards, though, so it's not a time to get complacent.
The Pirates head to Texas for a weekend series against the Rangers for some interleague baseball. We can only assume that Matt Joyce will be in the DH spot for them given his hitting off the bench this season. Let’s enjoy this 8-2 homestand, though, because it really was awesome and showed just the kind of levels this Pirates team can reach, especially offensively. I’m looking forward to seeing how long these guys can keep it up, but we should enjoy the ride while we’re on it and get back in line whenever the ride stops. Hopefully they can ride the wave through the weekend and keep bringing the lumber.