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Pirates Recap: Vince Velasquez Leads Shutout Over Cardinals

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The Pittsburgh Pirates opened up a four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals with Vince Velasquez on the mound. Velasquez came into the night with an 0-2 record and 9.82 ERA. The Cardinals had LHP Jordan Montgomery who entered with a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA.

Derek Shelton penciled in what is quickly becoming his favorite lineup against left-handed starters, even though it hasn’t provided many results as of yet. The offense managed to score two runs against each of the previous two LH starters (granted, it was two VERY good LHP’s), and on this evening they were able to push across, you guessed it, two runs against Montgomery.

Fortunately for the Pirates, Velasquez showed up in a big way, with hopes this could be the new and improved version. He worked his way through a very tough Cardinals lineup for six innings, allowing only three hits and two walks. Those six innings included six strike outs, and — the most important part — no runs against.

Velasquez threw 50 fastballs — of his 95 pitches — that came with five called strikes and ten whiffs. Next was his slider that he threw 30 times, which got six called strikes and 11 whiffs of it’s own. He added 12 changeups that had one called strike and four whiffs, then tossed in three knuckle curves which got two called strikes.

It’s one game, but it’s an arsenal that worked well and kept a potent offense at bay.

Montgomery was having a fantastic start himself, keeping the Pirates off the score sheet for five innings. They would finally break through in the sixth, when the team’s veteranosity kicked things off with an Andrew McCutchen lead-off double that was immediately followed by a Carlos Santana double to give he Pirates a 1-0 lead.

*As a side note. Santana would be thrown out at the plate later in the inning and was eventually replaced at DH after appearing injured by Bryan Reynolds in the ninth. So, hopefully he’s ok.*

In the top of the seventh, the not-entirely-hopeless bottom of the order added on to a slim lead. With one out, the Ji-Hwan Bae and Jason Delay parade set the table by collecting a single each, which prompted Cardinals’ manager to bring in Jordan Hicks. Ke’Bryan Hayes walked to load the bases, and as commentator Greg Brown was questioning if “McCutchen could catch up to Hicks heat in his old age”, Cutch lined a 100 MPH fastball to CF for a sacrifice fly and a 2-0 lead.

After Duane Underwood Jr. dispensed of the Cardinals on just 12 pitches, collecting two strike outs, Connor Joe continued his hot start and reunion tour by hitting his first career home run for the Pirates. Rodolfo Castro — who is on a bit of a hot streak himself after a very tough start — wanted in on the fun and followed Joe’s home run with his own first of the season to make it 4-0.

The Pirates 2014 draft is finally paying dividends, with Mitch Keller finding himself, and returnee Connor Joe playing a big part through 13 games.

Colin Holderman had a very eventful bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with two outs before getting Nolan Gorman to line out to first base.

The Pirates added a fifth run in the ninth when Hayes scored on a wild pitch. Dauri Moreta came in and after giving up a lead-off double, he finished off the next three hitters, two by strike out. They move to 8-5 on the season and will look to keep the good times rolling. ~Laissez les bon temps rouler~

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Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)
Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.

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