Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/13/13
The Pirates’ big 11-game homestand couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, as the Bucs won their fourth straight game and moved in to a first place tie with the Cardinals. A somewhat small but very boisterous crowd saw Jeff Locke deliver his best start in quite a while as the offense did just enough to get him a much-needed victory. It should be noted that the Cubs’ lineup is absolutely dreadful, especially without Alfonso Soriano now, but Locke looked like his first-half self in this one. He was throwing strikes, getting quick outs, keeping hitters off balance, and did not have significant control issues. He allowed just three hits and just one run (when two of the hits came in one inning). That’s easily his best outing since the first game after the All Star break and is very encouraging – I don’t think we can quite say he’s “back” … but he still certainly has the capability to be effective, and his next start will come against the light hitting Padres at home. Cubs lefty Chris Rusin pitched pretty well, too, but the Pirates were able to get to him somewhat. They seemed comfortable at the plate despite an output of just six hits on the night, and got the big hits when they needed them. The lefty-killing combo of Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer set up Marlon Byrd and Pedro Alvarez for big 2-out RBI singles in the fourth, which put the Bucs up for good. Mercer added another run in the eighth when he smashed a double in to the gap, scoring Clint Barmes. Mercer and McCutchen also made highlight plays on defense, as Mercer made a fantastic play in the hole and McCutchen made a brilliant catch in center that may rank among his best ever. Cutch got some extremely loud M-V-P chants and I’m guessing that will continue all week – it was awesome. Even though the upper deck corners and upper bleachers were empty, the crowd that showed up was phenomenal — the extended standing ovation the Bucs got when they took the field (after returning home for the first time since clinching the winning season) was pretty special. Again, no games are gimmes, but the Pirates need to take advantage of these home games against weak clubs and they certainly did on Thursday. Gotta keep it up all weekend. Pirates 3, Cubs 1 / Box / 2013 Record: 85-61 / Next: Friday, vs. Cubs, 7:05 Source: FanGraphs
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