The Pirates sent another full house home happy on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Tigers 4-1 for the second straight game. They did it behind a excellent-but-unexpected starting effort and a big swing from their MVP.
If this was Brad Lincoln‘s last start for a while, he certainly went out with a bang. Brad came out of the gate this afternoon with some fantastic stuff, getting lots of swings-and-misses and cruising efficiently through the Detroit lineup. It was pretty much a 180-degree turnaround from what Lincoln had shown in his last couple starts. He started to cause a stir in PNC Park by carrying a no-hitter into the sixth, but it was broken up with a leadoff single by Ramon Santiago. Still, Lincoln got a nice hand and finished the inning with no problems.
Miguel Cabrera broke out of a mini-slump with an opposite field blast to lead off the seventh and knock Brad out of the game, but it was still an outstanding effort. Now the question is what will happen next with Lincoln. Does one really good start after a few bad ones put him ahead of Kevin Correia (with Jeff Karstens poised to take someone’s spot within the week)? Hard to say.
The Pirates’ offense didn’t do much against Max Scherzer, who struck out 15 Bucs last month. They weren’t quite that bad, though (only 8 K’s today), and when an opportunity came around, Andrew McCutchen capitalized in a big way. He blasted a 3-run homer to left that gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead and triggered some (much deserved) M-V-P chants throughout the park. I have a feeling those are going to get louder if this keeps up.
The bullpen finished things with no problems, and Neil Walker singled in Casey McGehee (who had doubled) for the Bucs’ fourth run in the seventh inning. My only beefs today were a few #Hurdled moments: Jose Tabata thrown out stealing with McCutchen at the plate, a failed suicide squeeze, and a sac-bunt in front of McCutchen that led to an obvious intentional walk. Luckily the Bucs were good today to win comfortably despite those miscues.
The win puts the Bucs into a tie for the second NL Wild Card spot and improves them to 23-12 at home (second best in MLB, just a half game behind the Dodgers). It also clinched the series (eight series wins out of the last nine) and clinched a winning record in interleague play (10-7 with just Sunday’s game to go). Good times on the North Shore.
Pirates 4, Tigers 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 38-32 / Next: Sunday, vs. Tigers, 1:35
MVP: Lincoln (+.199) / LVP: Barajas (-.043) / Key play: Cutch’s HR
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