The Pirates’ season has been a bit strange so far, with them being exclusively involved in sweeps (two for and two against to put them tied for third place at 6-6 on the season). This series was seriously cathartic, though. The Pirates really struggled at Wrigley last year, winning only a single contest there, and went 4-14 against the Cubs overall, which is no way to win a division against what many people consider to now be the premier team in baseball (although I’m not convinced of this sentiment).
This series was the antithesis of both the Pirates’ struggles both last year and in the early season. Coming into this series, the Pirates were hitting an abysmal .169/.169/.221 with runners in scoring position on the season. Additionally, they had 20 strikeouts in 77 plate appearances and not a single walk. Guys just weren’t getting the job done and the timely hitting that is more or less required to score runs (the current home run environment notwithstanding) wasn’t there, which led to the 3-6 record they had entering the weekend.
The series against the Cubs was a completely different story. That RISP slash line turned around to be .348/.348/.696 (obviously still not taking walks, but that isn’t always the goal with RISP and also, this was only 23 plate appearances). Two big comeback wins were keyed by clutch hits, including McCutchen’s three run homer in the 8th on Saturday and the bevy of runs put up in the 8th and 9th yesterday, including a few key balls in play with the bases loaded in the eighth to keep the rally going and especially Adam Frazier’s total bomb to put the Cubs away in the ninth.
That uniform makes him look like a kid on the Little League team who got last pick of pants and had to get them two sizes too big, but somehow he hit a 95 mph fastball 432 feet. Frazier is quietly putting up some really solid numbers that probably deserve their own look at some other point.
All of this in yesterday’s game was set up by Jameson Taillon’s badass performance, especially getting out of a big jam caused by a Mercer error and only allowing one run. Really huge from him and he’s looking fantastic so far this year.
This series was a great turnaround for the Pirates. The divisional wins you bank early in the season count the same as the ones later in the season, and this was a big lift for the Pirates. They have more business to take care of starting with today’s contest in St. Louis against the last place (!) Cardinals. The pitching matchups look good to put up a few wins. Go Bucs.