Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/30/12

Other than a briefly-terrifying  (but apparently not serious) injury to Andrew McCutchen, today’s game was pretty darn awesome. The Bucs got a big blast early on, a solid pitching effort, and a series win in St. Louis…with a chance to sweep tomorrow afternoon.

The game started out with two quick outs, but  McCutchen and Garrett Jones singled to keep the inning alive. Neil Walker walked, bringing up Pedro Alvarez with the bases loaded. El Toro came up huge with the bases loaded last night and looked very comfortable, as Lance Lynn worked himself into a 3-2 count (thanks to a friendly call to Pedro on the 2-1 pitch). Then he absolutely grooved the payoff, and Pedro absolutely destroyed it over the bullpen in right field. 4-0 Bucs.

That was the Pirates’ first grand slam of the year, and Pedro’s second for his career. His weird day/night splits continue (he’s now hit 12 of his 15 homers in day games) but in general he still looks to be locked in–even after the totally insane two games in Cleveland, he’s still been producing very well since then. Obviously, putting your team up 4-0 in the first inning with one big swing is about as huge as it gets. It was his 15th homer of the year, tying McCutchen for the team lead. Both are on pace for 30+ for the year.

Jeff Karstens came out and pitched well with the lead. The Cards were able to cut the lead in half in the third, but Jeff Locked things down other than that. It looked like the typical Karstens start we saw so many of last season: quick innings, lots of strikes, very efficient. Jeff also recorded seven strikeouts – a pretty high number for him – and got all the way through seven innings. VERY encouraging outing – if he can pitch consistently like that, it really gives the rotation a big boost.

The Pirates added runs in the fifth on a well-placed ground ball double by Walker and a fielder’s choice groundout by Barmes, then tacked on another in the ninth a Drew Sutton‘s ground ball.  The offense tallied eight hits and worked Lynn out of the game after five innings (he head defeated the Bucs twice previously this year with two strong seven-inning outings). Jose Tabata and Michael McKenry each ripped a double, and McCutchen had two hits.

McCutchen also had a great diving catch in center, but his wrist bent awkwardly on the play. He stayed in the game initially after the trainers investigated, then had more trouble with the wrist when he tried to check a swing in his next AB. The trainers investigated again, and he still stayed in the game….then came out a couple innings later (the Bucs were up by 4 in the 8th).

The Pirates announced that he came out with “soreness in his left wrist” at the time, then said he had a wrist sprain after the game. X-rays were negative, but Clint Hurdle said he wants to sit Cutch tomorrow. Cutch himself, on the other hand, wants to be in there. We’ll see what happens, but so far it sounds like this isn’t a big deal – at least right now. Obviously it would be devastating if he gets seriously hurt, and the Pirates surely know this, so I’m confident they will be careful.

In the meantime, it’s another great win for the Bucs. That’s four in a row now, and they’re seven over .500 — tying the high water mark last season (and at any point during the 19 year streak). They remain a game behind the Reds but are tied for a wild card spot, and have a tough series victory in hand with a favorable-looking homestand coming up. Good times!

Pirates 7, Cardinals 3 / Box / 2012 Record: 42-35 / Next: Sunday, at Cardinals, 2:15

MVP: Alvarez (+.287) / LVP: Presley (-.033) / Key play: Pedro’s grand slam

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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