In baseball, it’s often the trends and history against teams and players that can make or break a team. Tonight, it was a bit of both, as the Pirates ultimately came out on top 4-2, via an 8th inning three run homer from Russell Martin.
On the bad side of trends, the Pirates continued their struggles against Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo took a 2.67 career ERA against the Pirates into the game, and he lowered that a bit with his outing. Gallardo pitched seven scoreless innings, surrendering five hits and striking out 11. In those seven innings, he threw 78 strikes in 112 pitches and generated 14 swings and misses, six each on his slider and curveball.
“He was sharp. Just kept us off-balance,” Clint Hurdle said. “The cutter played, the command played, downhill angle on the fastball, the curveball, all of it. Shaving edges. Just really good command of the strike zone. No misses in the middle.”
Perhaps the Pirates’ only recourse against Gallardo was their ability to run up his pitch count enough to get him out after the 7th.
“It was big that we got him up where it (the pitch count) was that he’d had enough,” Hurdle said.
On the other end of trends, the Pirates continued their success against Jonathan Broxton, generating four runs on four hits in the 8th. The big hit came when Martin mashed a fastball left over the plate just into the right centerfield bleachers.
“He made a mistake, he left it out over the plate, and I put a good swing on it,” Martin said.
Going into today, Broxton had a 4.89 ERA in 35 innings against the Pirates in his career, a difficult trend to explain given Broxton’s tremendous overall success.
“Every once in a while there can be a team that can be maybe a little more challenging than others [for a pitcher],” Hurdle said.
Jeff Locke started for the Pirates tonight, and he continued his season trend of being, well, Jeff Locke. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs, five hits, striking out three, and walking none, while generating a 9:5 groundout to airout ratio.
“His changeup played extremely well tonight. He threw some curveballs. The fastball was really good to the glove side again. Getting strikes, moving people a little bit. He pitched effectively in,” Hurdle said.
Some of Locke’s success can perhaps be attributed to his counterpart’s success, as well.
“When a guy’s on the mound, he’s making good pitches, and he’s working officially, and he’s quick, it’s able to get you right back there on the mound quick too,” Locke said.
Of course, not everything followed a trend tonight. For the first time this year, the Pirates were able to win a fifth game in a row after previously going 0-6 in such opportunities. And from a larger perspective, the Pirates continued to not be the team people were accustomed to watching over their 20 year losing streak.
“It’s not the Pirates of the past where if you gave up four or five, you were guaranteed to lose. It’s not that team,” Locke sais