Over the past weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates were swept in a three game series by the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the first series loss of the season for the Pirates, and dropped them to .500. Last night the Pirates returned home to face the Brewers in a new series. This time around they won 11-2, thanks to four home runs and strong pitching from Edinson Volquez. Here is a photo recap from last night, with some thoughts on a few of the key players. All photos are from our photographer, David Hague, and you can see the rest of his shots on his Facebook page.
The Pirates got on the board in the first inning when Andrew McCutchen hit a two run homer, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead. It was the first homer of the year for McCutchen. He currently has a six game hitting streak, and a .970 OPS during that stretch. That could be a sign that his early season slump is over. McCutchen had a .661 OPS in his first ten games.
Edinson Volquez had another strong start, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on eight hits, with a walk and three strikeouts. So far, Volquez has a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings, which is very “Francisco Liriano 2013” like. However, his xFIP is 3.63. Don’t expect him to continue looking like an ace, but the way he’s pitching right now means he’ll be a great starter for the rotation if he continues.
Russell Martin provided his usual strong defense behind the plate, catching a foul ball near the back stop, and throwing two runners out in two stolen base attempts.
The Pirates and Brewers were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, when Josh Harrison pinch hit for Volquez. Harrison showed bunt a few times, then switched to swinging away with a 2-2 count, and ended up launching a two run homer, scoring Jordy Mercer.
In the eighth inning, the Brewers brought in Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang, who was drafted from the GCL Pirates. Wang was hit hard in only his second outing of the season. It remains unlikely that he will stick with the Brewers over a full season. He’s got some nice upside, touching as high as 95 last night, and sitting mostly 93-94 with his fastball. However, it’s very difficult to make the jump from the GCL to the majors. I think Wang could be a mid-rotation starter in the majors one day, but he’s going to need actual development time in the minors, especially in full-season ball.
Gaby Sanchez was the first batter Wang saw, and greeted him with a solo home run on the second pitch thrown.
After the Pirates added two more runs on hits from Jose Tabata and Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez broke things open with a three run blast off Wang.
One of the reasons Wang probably won’t stick, outside of performance, is that the Brewers are getting good production from their other left-handers. Former Pirate Zach Duke is one of those lefties. He came into the game last night and got two outs to end the seventh. Another former Pirate, Tom Gorzelanny, should come off the DL by the end of the month, giving the Brewers four lefty relief options. That could force Wang off the roster.
The Shark Tank came on to close out the game. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Bryan Morris retired the side in order to close out the 11-2 win in the ninth inning.
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