Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/22/13
The Pirates came back on Saturday for a much needed feel good victory over the Reds, moving them back in to second place by themselves and evening the series. After Friday’s brutal finish, it was nice to see another huge and fired up crowd be able to celebrate and go home happy. The night belonged to A.J. Burnett. Sadly, it’s possible that this could have been his final start at PNC Park – let’s hope that’s not the case, but if it was, he went out in style. After allowing two early runs, which really started to bring up the “here we go again” feeling across the ballpark, Burnett was terrific. He was clearly energized once the Pirates tied the game, and found an electric curveball that seemingly generated whiffs at will. He used it to strike out twelve, his high mark as a Pirate, and he cruised through seven. When he got the final strikeout to finish the seventh, he was clearly extremely pumped, and I have never heard PNC Park louder after a play that didn’t end the game. Just awesome stuff. On Friday, defense was the X-factor that won the game for the Reds and lost it for the Bucs. Cincinnati made several excellent plays while Jordy Mercer‘s error set up the game tying rally. Saturday was a different story. Joey Votto‘s error on an extremely routine grounder in the second gave the Bucs a two out baserunner, and Russell Martin turned that in to two runs with a blast to tie the game. That was huge after the deflating early deficit. Later, Homer Bailey walked Andrew McCutchen and threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt. Cutch sprinted to third, setting up a prime RBI chance late in a tie game. Justin Morneau walked, Marlon Byrd delivered a long sac fly (that also moved Morneau to second – great running), and Pedro Alvarez came up big against a LOOGY (our old buddy Zach Duke!) with a beautiful opposite field line drive RBI single. So the Pirates did an excellent job coming through at the plate, but poor defense by the Reds set up their chances. The bullpen had no issues, unlike Friday. I’m not sure why Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson pitched in the eighth instead of Tony Watson, but they combined to get the job done (mostly Wilson, who got a big DP in his first outing in a while). That set up Jason Grilli‘s first save chance in two months, and he delivered as the crowd welcomed him back with a big roar. He allowed a soft leadoff hit, but then got a DP from Jay Bruce (who homered off Grilli earlier in the year for his first blown save) and another groundout ended the game. Fantastic stuff, and I think Grilli’s going to be back in that role unless he runs in to more trouble. Great win, and even though the Cardinals won to keep the Bucs two back, things feel a lot better now. To host the wild card game, the Pirates need to split the remaining four with Cinci and take 2 of 3 against the Cubs. That’s doable. Catching the Cardinals is still unlikely but also still possible. And the playoff magic number is down to three. Pirates 4, Reds 2 / Box / 2013 Record: 89-66 / Next: Sunday, vs. Reds, 1:35 Source: FanGraphs
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