Since Brock Holt joined the big league club, the infielder has created a spark at the top of the lineup. Holt picked up two hits in his first big league start, and came back even better on Wednesday at PNC Park. With Holt being able to get on base, it put more pressure on the Houston Astros’ starter Jordan Lyles as Andrew McCutchen put together a big night as well.
“They showed up big time for us,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “You get 10 hits on the night and you have two players with eight of them. You don’t see that very often. Stayed on balls, pushed the ball around different parts of the field on different pitches. Very impressive…With Andrew, the ability drive in runs in three straight at-bats also, it helped us get some separation early.”
The Pirates entered game action with a four game losing streak and having won just three of their last 13 games, but the two players together were able to help snap the skid with impressive nights.
“The guy’s good,” McCutchen said of his teammate. “He’s a scrappy little player. He’s going to put the ball in play a lot and create a lot of havoc. And he did a real good job of that tonight getting on base and being able to score some runs.”
Holt, who hit leadoff and played second, picked up four straight hits, which included his first Major League double, while scoring two runs. It marked just the rookie’s third start with Pittsburgh. McCutchen picked up four hits of his own and the All-Star center fielder continues to get back on track from the month of August, where he hit just .252.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Holt said. “I just tried to go out there and keep doing what I’ve been doing in Double-A and in Triple-A. I came out tonight and tried to stay with the same approach and it worked out tonight.”
“It definitely feels good to go out and produce and play a good game,” McCutchen said. “Just a work in progress. It’s just all about getting that feeling back. It felt pretty good tonight…Not trying to do too much. Just trying to stay within myself. Just let it get deep and put a good swing on the ball.”
The duo was able to work together in their first three at-bats. With Holt getting on base ahead of him, McCutchen was able to drive in an RBI in each of his first three at-bats. It wasn’t until after the Astros called upon their bullpen, that the two players did not piggy back each other in an inning. Holt notched his fourth hit in the sixth, while McCutchen came through in the seventh. Holt had a chance to go 5-for-5 on the day, but flew out to center field in the eighth frame.
“What I like is yesterday was yesterday,” Hurdle said. “Yesterday got a taste of something different and then bounced back today and just shot the ball all over the park. He’s not just a pinger. He’s not going to flip it into left field…He’s been a confident hitter for years and the one thing you encourage them as they come up, it’s very simple, you spell it out for them but it’s hard to do, fear nothing and respect everything. That’s kind of the way he’s going out there and playing.”
“It was a big night,” Holt said. “I was able to go out there and get on base. That doesn’t matter if the guys behind you don’t drive you in. McCutchen had a great game as well.”
Rodriguez Strings Together Scoreless Streak
Wandy Rodriguez entered game action having posting just a 1.84 ERA over his last three appearances. When Rodriguez first was traded to Pittsburgh from Houston, the left-hander admitted that he put too much pressure on himself. The result was 15 earned runs over his first four starts. But since pitching in relief in St. Louis and finding more comfort with the team, Rodriguez has put together a scoreless streak.
Rodriguez shutout the Cardinals his last trip to the mound, holding their club to just three hits over six scoreless. But the lefty veteran was even better on Tuesday.
The Astros scattered just four hits over seven shutout frames against Rodriguez, to allow the lefty to toss back-to-back shutouts and extend his streak to 13 frames. Rodriguez admitted after the game that pitching against his former club was special, having spent his professional career with Houston.
“Very effective fastball-changeup use,” Hurdle said. “Mixed in the breaking ball, dropped down to left-handers a couple different occasions to give them a different look. After the first inning, very rhythmic, very in tempo, very in sync, very good outing again. He continues to piggy back [St. Louis].”
Rodriguez retired 15 of his final 16 batters, which included nine straight to end his outing. He also tied his season-high with seven whiffs tonight. The last time the lefty struck out seven this season came on May 13 against the Pirates when he was with the Astros.
“My changeup was pretty good tonight,” Rodriguez said. “I used it a lot. Every hitter I tried to work ahead in the count and later use whatever I want, fastball in, my breaking ball…I feel very comfortable here.”
Alvarez Named National League Player of the Week
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez was named National League player of the week after putting together a .458 average and belting four home runs. Alvarez led the NL with a 1.042 slugging percentage while placing third in hits (11), fifth in OBP (.500) and tied for sixth with eight RBI.
“It’s never not good when one of your players wins player of the week,” Hurdle said. “And let’s revisit some of the conversations that we had about Pedro earlier this year. He’s taken us a whole lot of different places. And to his credit, he stayed after it, has been resilient, and persevered and continues to work hard. Good for him. I’m happy for him. Proud of him.”
Alvarez has put together some streaky runs this season, but the current one that Alvarez is in couldn’t come at a better time. When Alvarez is locked in, the ball jumps of his bat. The third baseman has struggled with consistency, but Hurdle believes that with more experience, he will be able to do just that.
“You want to believe in things, trust things,” Hurdle said. “Yes, I do think he’s on to some really good things. Time will tell…Experience can be a wonderful teacher. Just more games, more different circumstances…Once we get through the trust, we’ve all got a chance to be better.”