From the start of things on Tuesday in New York, it didn’t look as if the efficient Wandy Rodriguez was on the mound. He’s shown two different sides since the Pirates acquired him from Houston at the trade deadline. At the beginning he was trying to do too much and justify the trade resulted in him struggling. But once he got more comfortable, Rodriguez went on a solid streak for Pittsburgh.
After tossing two innings in the Pirates’ 19-inning win in St. Louis, Rodriguez went on to allow three earned runs or less in five of his next six starts. Two of those were shutouts, and the lefty only struggled in one during that stretch, a four-run four frame outing against Milwaukee.
“Initially he was just overcharged and over-amped,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s settled in very well. He’s pitched good ballgames. He’s mixed his pitches well, especially against some teams that are very tough against left-handers…He’s pitched very effectively. I actually think that he’s getting the ball in to his glove side maybe more than I had seen in the past. It’s one of the things that we’ve encouraged all our guys to do. He’s moved upon it.”
“It’s been fun to watch him just evolve and continue to get the ball and just get better.”
In the bottom of the first inning with a four-run cushion against New York, Rodriguez allowed the lead to be in jeopardy with three straight hits and three straight runs.
A single and back-to-back long balls from the Mets quickly brought the game within one. Justin Turner took a 3-2 pitch for the two-run shot and David Wright followed by launching a 1-0 change before Rodriguez was able to record an out. Rodriguez walked a batter with one out, but was able to leave him stranded.
But after that shaky first inning, Rodriguez settled down and tossed five scoreless frames — an impressive feat considering he needed 37 pitches in the first inning alone. He had just one base hit over those final innings, a single with one-out in the fourth.
Overall, Rodriguez was charged with three runs on four hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out three while throwing 106 pitches, 74 for strikes.
Rodriguez, now a veteran at the age of 33, has evolved into a different type of pitcher than from what he was when he first came to the big leagues with the Astros. The velocity has gone down a tick and his strikeout ratio isn’t as high. But Hurdle believes that learning to recreate himself without those keys has made him become a more polished pitcher.
“He’s different,” Hurdle said. “He’s more of a pitcher. Not that he was ever a gasser, but there was a little more velocity. You always thought the arm was playing big because of the size. But over the course of time, he realized that he had to make an adjustment…I think it really made him acutely focus on his command down, command in and out. Know when to take shots up. I think he probably learned to read swings a little bit better because of it.”
“He to me now is a very complete pitcher. There’s some things that we’ve been able to add that kind of caught us off guard. There’s still room I think for him intellectually, mentally, the physical part of it probably is what it is right now. But I think different sets and sequences that he can probably explore moving forward. He’s much more polished now than he was when he initially came up.”
Two Big Swings of the Bat Makes History
The Pirates offense came out swinging against New York in the win on Tuesday. Pittsburgh pounded out 10 runs for the first time since August 16 against Los Angeles. But it was two very big swings of the bat that made history.
With one run in and two runners on base in the first inning, Pedro Alvarez launched a 3-1 pitch opposite field for a three-run homer. The bomb hit to left field was his 30th on the season. Alvarez joined teammate Andrew McCutchen with 30 long balls making it the first time Pittsburgh has had two players with at least 30 homers in a season since 2001. That season Aramis Ramirez (37) and Brian Giles (37) belted 30-plus bombs. It was also just the third time in Pittsburgh history for two players to do so. The only other time came in 1990 with Barry Bonds (33) and Bobby Bonilla (32).
Alvarez’s 30 homers is also the most home runs by a National League left-handed hitting third baseman since Robin Ventura of the New York Mets hit 32 in 1999.
The other bullet came off the bat of Garrett Jones in the ninth inning. The outfielder blasted an opposite field shot for a two-run long ball in the ninth frame. It marked his 25th on the season. Jones, along with Alvarez and McCutchen, became the first Pirates trio with 25-plus homers in a season since 1966 when Willie Stargell (33), Roberto Clemente (28) and Donn Clendenon (28) accomplished that feat.
Pirates Set Franchise Record in Strikeouts
The Pirates may have made history with the offense, but they also set a franchise record as well on Tuesday against the Mets. After reliever Jason Grilli struck out Ike Davis swinging on a 2-2 fastball in the eighth inning, it combined for No. 1,125 on the year. That mark is the most team strikeouts in team history passing the previous record set in 1969 (1,124).