Pirates Recap: Vince Velasquez Leads Shutout Over Cardinals

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~

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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Any reason Mathias is still with the Pirates. He’s played 3 games, and is 0 for 10 with 5 Strikeouts. He’s probably thought to be better than that, but why not exchange him for Tucupita Marcano who is off to a very hot start in AAA and has possibly more MLB experience than Mathias..


Right handed middle infield bat


because tucu stinks


Anyone else think that Contreras blocked the plate illegally when Santana was tagged?


Any update on santana? RHP tonight so i will be interested to see who plays of CSN, jack, cutch, and joe assuming reynolds is a lock


Joe should be in there every day until he stops hitting. His swing looks good.

I thought the middle infield defense will be an issue. Two ground balls should have been plays were errors.


Ah yes, the Jordan Walker hit streak was no match for…Vince Velasquez. Just as predicted.

Weird watching Willson Contreras catching for the Cards.


I’m looking at this kid and there’s no way he’s 20. He looks like he’s at least in his mid 30’s.


mf looks like he’s a father of three with a mortgage and a 9-5 job.


I want him to tell me about the good old days.


I thought the same thing! Haha


VV was on point last night.

He and Keller have the best stuff on the staff.


had to watch the game speeded up on DVR after an evening home, but it seemed like the Cards had a man on second with no outs every other innning and did not score. Great pitching.


Another well pitched and excellent defensive game. A nice habit!

Bae has become a highlight reel in CF. BC looks like a genius pairing he and Rodolfo Castro as our 2B/Util.

Statcast Winners

Joe – 4 contacts 95, 95.1, 104.7, 101.9 (HR)
Castro – 3 contacts 95.5, 98.3, 104.1 (HR), also 1 BB
‘Cutch – 3 contacts 90.7, 98.7, 107.8

How long before somebody with 2 injured 1B comes inquiring about Connor Joe?


I would be happy if Velasquez can prove me wrong but I still see him as a reliever than a starter. But good for him. Great win.


He’s got more of a starters repertoire than Oviedo or Contreras.


Don’t see it either. Would have been a tougher start had the Cardinals shown better plate discipline, but I’ll take the win. Fun game to watch.


Good stuff will make a team look like they don’t have good plate discipline. His stuff was moving all over the place, generating a ton of swing and miss.


I agree, but if he can continue to pitch like he did last night, he’s a big time steal as a SP. It’s early and all we can do is hope. We needed for him to step up and he did last night.


Don’t mean to diminish Velasquez’s performance in any way, but I was shocked at the Redbirds flailing at so many pitches out of the zone. I’m thinking they saw video of VV’s previous start’s where he had served up far too many middle middle pitches, and they went into the game prepared to swing early and swing often.

Whatever the case, it was a pleasant surprise. Hopefully it continues all weekend.


His sequencing was on point. He had really good movement as well.


He definitely had them off balance. Just not used to seeing guys like Arrenado chase pitches nowhere near the plate.


Yep, very un-Cardinal-like AB’s. Missing the leadership of Molina, breaking in a 21 year old, and the thing last week about hustling on the bases has this team a little off their game. But if you look at their hitting numbers they are all doing well.


They’re most certainly a good hitting team. Professional hitters up and down the lineup. But last night, they looked like they were trying too hard. Maybe VV’s pitches were just that good?

b mcferren

blanking the redbirds in st. louis

ahta baby


Keep it going, boys! Nice mix of old & new.

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