Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/21/12

The Pirates did what they were supposed to do, cruising behind their ace to a big win over a bad Twins team. They did so in extremely impressive fashion, however, and won their second straight series (and seventh out of eight). The victory gets the Bucs back to three over .500, within two of the division, and within one of the wild card.

James McDonald was phenomenal yet again. Remember last year when he didn’t make it through seven innings in a start until August? Obviously he’s made incredible progress in that area–this season he is AVERAGING 6.45 innings per start–and tonight sort of capped it off with his first career complete game. J-Mac struck out five, walked none, and allowed just six hits and the one run on 120 pitches. Just awesome. His 2.19 ERA is now the fourth-best in the league, and tonight’s performance will certainly help his All-Star chances.

Unlike in his last start (and several others), the offense gave McDonald a ton of run support. Andrew McCutchen led the way early on with a triple in the first inning and a 2-out, bases-clearing double in the second. A Minnesota error set up the big hit, but Cutch set the tone early with two rocket extra-base hits. The gapper to make it 4-0 essentially ended the game in the second inning, considering how strong McDonald looked early on.

The offense didn’t end there, though. Rod Barajas blasted a 2-run shot in the 6th. Garrett Jones blasted a 2-run shot in the 7th–a nice little birthday present for GFJ on his 31st. And of course, Pedro Alvarez added one more with a mammoth shot off the top of the fence behind the RF grandstand that bounced down to the riverwalk. I’m not sure about this but I’d call it the longest homer he’s hit at home. Pedro also had a base hit in the 6th inning and looks like he’s still locked in at the plate. Love it.

This was almost an expected win for the Bucs…it was against the awful Twins, with McDonald on the mound against a struggling Minnesota starter. Not only did they get the win, though, they played about as well as possible. Great pitching performance, great night at the plate, and an 8-run win. That’s what good teams do.

Pirates 9, Twins 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 36-32 / Next: Friday, vs. Tigers, 7:05

MVP: McCutchen (+.225) / LVP: Alvarez (-.028) / Key play: Cutch’s double

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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