Jeff Locke Throws His First Complete Game Shutout in Pirates 10-0 Win

MIAMI – Jeff Locke did something tonight that he’s never done in his career before: pitch into the ninth inning as a starter. It hadn’t happened in his previous 100 big league starts. It never happened in the minors, and didn’t happen in prep ball, where they only play seven innings anyway.

“I’ve been in there twice before out of the pen in like 10-0 games,” Locke said. “Unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. Actually, I’ve never been a part of it. It was pretty special.”

The end result was a complete game shutout for the lefty, his first complete game in 101 MLB starts. It was also a game where he flirted with a Maddux — a complete game shutout on less than 100 pitches — eventually ending the game with 105 pitches. It didn’t take long for Locke to realize that the complete game was a possible. In fact, he started thinking about it in the fourth inning after seeing his early pitch count.

“I was like ‘If things go really well for the next hour and a half, I’m lined up for a pretty good game.’ But there was never really that big inning, and that’s something that’s plagued me throughout my career was a big inning, or two big innings in a game.”

Clint Hurdle was impressed with Locke’s outing, and met the starter on the field as he came off the mound, giving him a hug, followed by the coaching staff congratulating Locke in a line.

“I told him he was getting a standing ovation from the coaching staff,” Hurdle said. “The guys are happy for him. The guys are pumped too, the entire team. Those are the moments that you really embrace and you don’t take for granted.”

Hurdle praised Locke for having complete command of all his pitches, holding his velocity late in the game, getting 13 ground ball outs, and 11 batters in three pitches or less. He did point out that Locke only threw 12 of 28 first pitch strikes, which was the one downside tonight. However, he battled back by throwing 2-0 and 2-1 off-speed pitches for strikes and weak hits, escaping any issues from falling behind. He also benefited from some nice plays on the field.

“Fantastic, to go through that lineup as efficiently as he did with no walks and one strikeout,” Hurdle said. “Get them to swing, and mis-hits. We threw some leather out there behind him tonight, which was fantastic as well. Just proud of him. He continues to work hard. This was the culmination of hard work.”

Locke received some help in the sixth inning, when the Pirates scored five runs, capped off by Gregory Polanco’s first career grand slam. The score was 2-0 prior to that inning, but the big offensive outburst put the Pirates up 7-0, and allowed Locke to cruise the rest of the way.

“What’s impressive, this guy is running up there hot, 96-97, and he throws him a changeup at 91, and [Gregory] is right on time,” Hurdle said of the home run off Marlins’ reliever Jose Urena. “Just a really pretty swing. He sees the ball well here.”

Polanco entered tonight with a .500/.548/.679 line in his career at Marlins Park, spanning 31 plate appearances. This was also where he hit his first big league home run, coming on June 13, 2014.

“I see it really well,” Polanco said of this park. “When I come here, I always feel good, and I see the ball really good.”

The Pirates also got a two run homer from Sean Rodriguez, and an RBI single from David Freese in the ninth inning, capping off a 10-0 victory.

Game Notes

**The entire offense was working tonight, with 10 runs on 14 hits. Hurdle praised the opposite field approach of the team after the game for these results: “I think it’s a good ballpark to see the ball, it’s just a hard ballpark to reach the bleachers. We pounded some balls tonight into the deep part. But the way we struck the ball to the opposite field was very, very impressive.”

**Sean Rodriguez not only had a big game at the plate, but had some nice plays on the field, getting the start tonight at shortstop.

“I hit balls to him everyday at short,” Hurdle said. “I believe he can play shortstop. This year we wanted to put him in play where he can get more reps. Just outside the first base defense at the end, we’ve been able to do that. We moved him all over the field.”

**David Freese had four hits tonight, including two doubles, while getting the start at first base. He continues looking like a valuable off-season pickup, now hitting for an .802 OPS.

“He’s a ballplayer,” Hurdle said. “He grinds out at-bats. He’s another guy with some history here. He’s hit the ball here well in the past. Another guy that just showed you that opposite field gap. The one ground ball through the left side, and then three bullets the other way. Letting the ball travel, seeing it deep, getting the barrel to it, handling himself over at first.”

**Jeff Locke was greeted by a very excited Francisco Cervelli after the final out, and had a lot to say about his catcher, and how Cervelli has helped him lately.

“He just gets fired up about a lot of stuff. I was pretty excited too. Sometimes he talks so fast, I can’t even hear him. He was pretty excited, and he told me after the game that he thinks the way I’ve thrown the ball over the last six weeks, regardless of result, is just the way I need to be. To not let little things get to me, to care if you give up a two out hit or a lead off hit. Just go after the next guy and get a double play. Last year and this year, when we’ve had him, he just instills so much confidence in the pitchers. It’s not always going to be your night out there, but he does a good job of just keeping you focused on the task at hand, and never getting too far ahead of yourself.”

**Locke really seems to love pitching in Miami. His last seven inning start on the road came in Miami on 8/26/15. His only other eight inning start on the road was in Miami on 6/13/14, the same day Polanco hit his first homer. Locke has a 1.76 ERA at Marlins Park in four starts, spanning 30.2 innings after tonight.

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Scott Kliesen

Isn’t it funny how players perform better than expected in certain parks? Locke & Polanco in Miami, Morton in Cincy, Alvarez in St. Louis come to mind right away. Just goes to show you how important confidence is to performance.

Bill W

I wonder if his performance is contagious?

Roberrto21

Excellent game all around! They just need to hand close enough to the Cubs until Taillon comes up and they could make it a real race. Nicasio looks like he’s the better fit for the bullpen, and a group of Juan-Hughes-Feliz-Watson-Melancon would be solid, better than what they have been showing. They need Liriano to get back on track, too. I haven’t given up on this year yet!

burghb

Glad those two Puerto Rico games were moved back to Miami!

Blaine Huff

Locke was an absolute stud tonight.

Other guys that made me smile…

Freese: damn, there’s $3M that was very well spent.

S-Rod: we all hated the signing, in less than 40% of last year’s PAs, he’s exceeded ’15 HR total and tied the RBIs numbers…and a .986 OPS with a day left in May? Pfffft, we were wrong.

Kang: ’nuff said.

Polanco: every time he looks slump bound…it doesn’t happen. 50 XBH last year, on pace for 91 in ’16.

Harrison: anyone else notice this guy’s hitting .323?

emjayinTN

Excellent summary and Freese and Srod are playing like their very careers are on the line – and they are on the line. They have truly complicated the issue because they are doing so well, but Srod is in his age 31 season, Joyce in his age 32 season, Jaso is 32/33, and Freese is in his age 33 season.

I am thankful for their performances so far, but in a few weeks, some position players need to be moved up, which could mean trades for some of these guys. Or, do we play for 2016 and let the future be something for next year. Groundhog Day.

Blaine Huff

The Pirates could trade…but I don’t see it. Aside from Taillon (who we’ll see very soon) and Kuhl. There’s no one at AAA beating down the door.

I love Bell, and he’s playing good ball…but he’s not playing enough to boot a ML 1Bman with an .817 OPS out of a job.

After Bell? Frazier and Moroff are having good season…Hanson seems to have imploded since he got his taste of the majors…I can’t see either of them pushing out S-Rod. Maybe Frazier gets the call if S-Rod is injured, but that’s about the only way he takes his slot.

Jason Rogers for Matt Joyce or Freese? Nope.

Freese, Rogers, Joyce, and Jaso were all brought in as low cost filler…and they’ve all been studs…no way I think we’ll see their season ending numbers on par with what they are now, but they cost next to nothing and I don’t think the Pirates assumed they’d be flippable (except for Freese). Play’em til the wheels fall off and replace them then…and, if the wheels somehow stay on, give them a pat on the back at the end of the season and watch as they go off to sign bigger/better deals.

Scott Kliesen

Knowing the way CH values veterans, I don’t see them trading Freese, Joyce, or SRod to make room for Bell or Hanson.

st1300b

I’m glad to see baseball pros get theirs. I love these kind of REAL utility and veteran guys, so long we’ve had bums like Matt Diaz etc.
Of course Polanco is on my wall at work my favorite along with Kang!
No slight on Cutch just never connected with him.

burghb

The All-Bruce Team

piraddict

Locke is doing well at the right time for his career with Taillon coming up soon. If Locke continues this Nicasio makes way for JT.

Joshuatree

As far as I’m concerned, the decision has already been made regardless of Lockes start. Nicasio rocked himself in his last start and not only did Taillon skip his start but they positioned him to jump right into his spot.

Blaine Huff

Yup…and this is why Super Two has more than one benefit. If this call had been made a few weeks ago, Nicasio probably holds his spot over Locke/Niese.

Blaine Huff

I don’t see how it’s anybody but Nicasio.

Over the last seven starts, Locke’s throwing a 3.47 ERA and pitched, at least, 6 innings six times Nicasio’s at 4.74 with 6 innings three times.

I figure they each of two more starts to save their starting jobs, but, unless something shocking happens, Nicasio looks like he’s lost his job.

st1300b

I’m not sure anybody is moving although everyone seems sure. Ive been a huge Jameson fan since day one, but has NH made any comments to this move or is this just speculation?

Joshuatree

In sports, it’s always speculation until you know how your GM works!

Scott Kliesen

Nothing will be said by NH until move is made in 2nd week of June.

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