Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/19/13
The Pirates couldn’t have come up with a better response to everything that happened on Monday night, as they took care of business right away and ended up with a shutout win over the Reds. Mat Latos hadn’t lost a game since August, but the Bucs jumped all over him in the first inning. Starling Marte hit a gapper to lead off and may have caught Brandon Phillips by surprise when he stretched it into a triple. Russell Martin brought him in with an infield hit. Latos then issued two walks, and Pedro Alvarez came up big with a fly ball to the LF corner for a loooong 2-run single. After a rough night at the plate on Monday, a three-run first against a tough pitcher was enormous. The momentum stayed in the Bucs’ favor in the bottom of the inning. Charlie Morton took care of all the questions about retaliation with a fastball right at Shin-Soo Choo‘s leg on his very first pitch. It had to be done (Charlie and Hurdle later denied intent, and Choo leads the league in HBP’s, but I don’t think there was any doubt about it), but hopefully that’s the end of this mess between the Bucs and Reds. There were no more issues on Tuesday, even though no warnings were issued, so credit the Reds for that. The best part of Charlie’s HBP? It didn’t hurt him one bit, because Zack Cozart immediately bounced right in to a double play. Morton was excellent – he loves pitching in Cincinnati – and there’s lots of reason to hope he can be a solid piece of the Bucs’ staff going forward. Charlie eliminated the control issues from his last start – he had no walks (and one other HBP). He may have benefited from a few hard hit outs but only yielded three hits, and kept the ball mostly on the ground (7 ground outs to 2 flyouts). He was efficient and appeared very confident in what can be a tough environment, and after a decent first start, I am very encouraged after seeing this one from Chuck. He ended up getting his first win in over a year (since he hadn’t pitched in over a year) – somewhat ironic since Latos took his first loss since August. Latos settled in quite well after the first – in fact, he completely dominated after the first and struck out nine without allowing another hit. The long first, however, forced him out of the game after five innings (plus a key pinch hit situation came up in the fifth). That didn’t help the Pirates much – they were simply whiffing all over the place all night long. Seventeen strikeouts! Luckily, Morton was so good that they didn’t need any more runs after the first – although a Jordy Mercer walk, a sac bunt, and a Marte RBI single (the Bucs’ only hit after the first inning) added a fourth run in the seventh. Clint Hurdle went with another very quick hook for his starter, pulling Charlie with a man on and Joey Votto up with an out in the sixth (despite just 61 pitches for Morton). Tony Watson allowed a double to Votto but worked out of it, and went on to toss a clean seventh as well. Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli both pitched, despite a four-run lead…it was pretty clear that Hurdle was placing a lot of importance on this game. They were both excellent as usual, combining for five K’s and no hits or walks. Huge win and response for the Bucs- the first inning (both halves of it) had to be enormous for their confidence. The pitching staff recorded its 12th shutout of the year, which leads the majors. Great stuff. Pirates 4, Reds 0 / Box / 2013 Record: 42-29 / Next: Wednesday, at Reds, 7:10 Source: FanGraphs
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