Over the course of the last week the Pirates have won five games, but I've been saying ad nauseum that they haven't really played that well. Part of the reason for that is that they've been winning close games while leaving tons of runners on base and most of their wins have felt like they more stumbled into them than beat their opponents. Last night bucked the trend a bit with AJ Burnett's fantastic pitching performance, but the offense still left runners scattered all over after Neil Walker's first inning grand slam. This game started off similarly; for seven innings the only runs the Pirates had came on a Starling Marte solo homer and a balk. Finally, in the eighth, they let things rip.
The eighth inning of this game featured seven straight hits off of Shawn Camp, who isn't even a bad reliever. The key hit was Mike McKenry's three-run homer that gave the Pirates their fifth, sixth, and seventh runs, but just seeing a big number up on the scoreboard after a sometimes-trying week was probably the most important part. As it turned out, they needed those runs after Joel Hanrahan's first outing in a while had some rough edges, but that part's easy to forget. A day ago, the Pirates were in search of some big performances and some hits and solid wins over a bad Cubs' team. They've got two of those in a row now, which is a really nice way to head into the biggest series that any Pittsburgh Pirate has played in one heck of a long time this weekend against the Reds.
It's August first. The Pittsburgh Pirates have 60 wins. Soak that in between now and 7:10 on Friday, because things are about to get intense.
I agree about leaving all those runners on base and the alarming amount of times the Pirates have had the base loaded or tow on and no or one outs and failed to score. And I did not like Hanrahan giving up three runs in the ninth and generally making things scary in has last several outings. However, those two really bad losses, one in Houston and one in Chicago, still only added to 2 'L's, no matter what the score. 5-2 and their record since July 1 is getting it done and Cincinnati cannot perform at that 10-0 level for the rest of the season.