I’m going to credit the rainout with some big wins today for the Pirates. Getting a day off to clear their minds after a bad stretch and heal their bodies might be just the thing they needed to get back on track in the coming onslaught of a month. The doubleheader was cool; single-admission doubleheaders rarely occur, so it’s a fun quirk of the game that I find really interesting and is one of those things that makes baseball awesome.
Neil Walker’s homecoming was ruined in the first game, in more ways than one. First of all, since the unscheduled, single-admission doubleheader started at 4:05pm, there was hardly anyone in the stadium to greet him when he came to bat, so he got a small ovation, then a larger one in his next plate appearance when more people showed up, etc, until getting another, large one in his first plate appearance in the second game. How anticlimactic.
One person who deserved multiple ovations in this game was Jon Niese, who threw 7 shutout innings against his former buddies and got a ton of ground ball outs. Looks like the Pirates got the better end of the deal today; this is also his fifth good outing in a row. Hopefully he’s turned a corner and can be relied upon for the remainder of the season.
(Sidebar: Apparently, Neil Walker is subletting Jon Niese’s apartment in New York for the season, which seems super weird to me. Like, you get traded for a guy and then shoot him a text and ask to live in his place? Weird, weird, weird. The Mets radio broadcasters said it during the game and it’s also here on ESPN.)
The offense did their job, manufacturing runs and chasing Steven Matz after five innings by jacking up his pitch count and getting guys on base. This is what I expected games to be like for this squad this year. The Pirates won the first one, 3-1.
The second game had a similar story reflected in more than just the score. Great pitching, this time from Nicasio, who was perfect through 4, then got in a jam in the 5th and escaped allowing only 1 run. The bullpen held it down, yielding not too much to the Mets, and the Pirates won the 2nd contest yet again by the score of 3-1.
Taking games from a playoff contender is great, getting a good start to the week after some terrible games and injuries is great, and the Cubs and Cardinals both losing is great. This is how to break out of a slump.
Tomorrow is going to bring even more energy to the club, with long-time top prospect Jameson Taillon making his debut for the Buccos. You better believe PNC is going to be amped up for this, both because Taillon has been vaunted for eons and everyone is well aware of how the starting pitching could be performing significantly better this season. Liriano got his start bumped back to Saturday, which I wonder about. Hopefully the time off for him mirrors the day off for the Pirates yesterday and gets him right as rain (see what I did there?) for the upcoming stretch of games.
Taillon takes the hill for the Buccos tomorrow at 7:05pm EDT against Noah Syndergaard. People are going to be watching this one. Go Bucs.