If there was a formula for a team like the Pirates to beat Felix Hernandez, I suppose that it would to be try and score a run or two with Felix on the mound, get a good start of your own, and turn it over to a bullpen battle. And so Neil Walker hit a two-run homer to off-set Hernandez's 11 strikeouts, Jeanmar Gomez's return looked a lot like pre-injury Gomez with five solid innings, and even thought Justin Wilson served up a home run to Raul Ibanez to tie the game at two in the sixth, the Pirates never trailed.
On this afternoon, it was Jordy Mercer that came up with the big hit, singling off of Yoervis Medina to drive Pedro Alvarez home after Pedro Alvarez opened up the ninth inning with a single off of lefty reliever Charlie Furbush. And ... that's it, pretty much. Neil Walker home run, nice Jeanmar Gomez start, some very solid work from Vin Mazzaro after Wilson gave up the game-tying home run, some timely hitting, an easy Mark Melancon save (Jason Grilli was apparently unavaiable after his arduous outing on Sunday, which I won't complain about), and the Pirates are 48-30.
As I type this, the Astros are beating the Cardinals. It's close (5-4) and it's still early (the sixth inning, with a Cardinal on second base), but if it holds up, the Pirates will be tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball.
Love the blog, Pat. Something I'd love to see you tackle: what's your take on Mercer? Do you think he's just rocking the small sample size magic, or have the Pirates stumbled into a legit solution at short? His minor league track record doesn't suggest he's a world-beater, but could he be a genuine late bloomer?
OK, that's it--I'm in, and I'm in with both feet. This club is going to the posteseason, and maybe--just maybe--the powers that be at FOX and MLB Network will be forced to actual feature the Pirates in national broadcasts at the expense of the Yankees and Red Sox even though the latter two are, I admit, criminally underexposed.
"The Bucs are going all the way, all the way, all the way, yeah the Bucs are going all the way, all the way this year!"
Damnit Lackey, I am going to have that song stuck in my head for a while.
Great job with the rest of the guys on the roundtable earlier. I find it great that some of the best Pirate coverage and analysis are from a bunch of bloggers. Sports media in this town has been a joke for years, especially when it has come to the Pirates.
I cannot wait for Saturday. My first game since Gerrit Cole's debut, and it should be electric.