Forgive me for the obvious pun, I couldn’t resist.
The Pirates took a bite out of Mike Fiers early and often by hitting three home runs, more than enough for Jeff Locke and the bullpen to finish off a 5-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Miller Park. Powering up against Fiers (and later against a reliever) supplied the Bucs’ 9th win in the last 56 games in Milwaukee. Pedro Alvarez and Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez both hit two home runs at the Wisconsin Launchpad.
Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run in as many at-bats against Fiers, a line-drive shot in the Top 1st to give the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish. Alvarez (2nd inning, 9th inning) and Neil Walker (4th inning) supplied the other home runs, huge shots into the right field seats. Alvarez’s second bomb in the 9th off Alfredo Figaro flew 459 feet onto the concourse above the second deck. Both Alvarez and McCutchen now have seven career multi-homer games, tied for 15th in Pirates history.
Unlike earlier this season when the Pirates hit four home runs and lost, the pitching staff was able to use the supply of offense to wrap up a victory.
Jeff Locke delivered one of his best outings of the season, pitching six shutout innings and striking out seven Brewers’ hitters. Despite getting six baserunners on the Pirates starter, no Milwaukee runner got into scoring position after the 2nd innings. Locke located his pitches terrifically, earning his fifth win with plenty of called strikes to frustrate the Brewers at the plate and notch another quality start.
If Locke is going to stave off the regression monsters, a start like Saturday’s would be a good way to do it. His seven strikeouts were a season high, and brought down his season FIP to 4.26 from 4.49. The difference between his FIP and ERA is still 1.81, which would be the largest (by a lot) in more than 50 years. That element of his domination, along with a low BABIP and high rate of stranding baserunners, makes it likely Locke’s run-prevention numbers are still due to go up. However, if he can continue to look this strong against the Tigers, Braves and Giants, his projection will start to be better than that of a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Every run in Saturday’s contest came on a home run, including Milwaukee’s Gomez hitting solo shots off Justin Wilson and Tony Watson. If the Pirates want to finally win a series at Miller Park, Wandy Rodriguez can give them a chance going up against Yovani Gallardo.