MIAMI – The Pirates wasted a lot of good pitching early in the season when they struggled to score runs. In the past month, they have wasted a lot of good hitting because of the staff’s inability to keep opponents in check.
Friday night, they didn’t waste anything as they emphatically ended a seven-game losing streak with an 11-0 blanking of the Marlins in the opener of a three-game series at Marlins Park.
“It was a lot of fun,” Bryan Reynolds said when I asked him how much he enjoyed the victory. “A lot of guys didn’t miss driving balls. We were scoring runs. The pitching was great. It was just a good all-round game. Everyone did well.”
It was the largest margin of victory by the Pirates (31-38) this season and their most complete game. Like Reynolds said, everybody contributed, even if it took all the way to the 69th game for the Pirates to put it all together.
Reynolds continued his sensational rookie season with four hits to lift his batting average to .364, and Colin Moran continued to strengthen his grip on the starting third baseman’s job he lost to Jung Ho Kang in spring training with three hits, including a three-run home run in the seventh inning that made it 8-0, and a career-high five RBIs:
The Pirates had seven extra-base hits, including a pinch-hit two-run home run by Jose Osuna in the eighth that stretched the lead to 10-0. They tagged Trevor Richards for 11 hits in five innings after he had allowed a total of five hits in his previous three starts, spanning 19 innings.
Meanwhile, Steven Brault continued the best stretch of his four seasons in the major leagues by scattering eight hits over six innings. Michael Feliz, Clay Holmes and Richard Rodriguez finished the nine-hit shutout with one inning apiece. All the Marlins’ hits were singles.
Oh, if they could all be this easy.
“They call the season a grind because baseball is simply the hardest game there is,” Brault said. “You play 162 games, you come out there every single day. It’s just a hard thing to do. To be able to (bounce) back is so hard and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it all year.”
Indeed, they have. The Pirates lost eight games in a row from April 21-28 following a 12-6 start to the season. They then won eight of their next 11 games. This time, the Pirates had gone winless on their 10-game road trip prior to Friday as they dropped three games to the Brewers and four to the Braves. That also gave the Pirates 18 losses in their last 24 games.
Will the Pirates bounce back again?
Hurdle wouldn’t offer a prediction but did make an interesting observation of what it’s like to experience the ups and downs of a long season.
“What better way than to go to work at a place where it does rip your heart out every now and again?” Hurdle said. “I’ve got to believe it’s tougher to go to work at a place where it’s status quo every day. The highs can be high, and the lows can be lows (in baseball). How exciting is that? We’re not in the same old, same old that a lot of people unfortunately get trapped in.”
Perhaps it was fitting then that Moran was one of the heroes of the night. He experienced the low of losing his spot in the lineup in March but now has become an integral part of the offense in June, batting fifth in the order behind RBI machine Josh Bell.
Moran is hitting .275/.330/.481 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 66 games. Last season as a rookie, he had 11 homers and 58 RBIs in 144 games. He has been around the game his entire life and understands how difficult it can be, as his uncle, B.J. Surhoff, played in the major leagues for 19 seasons.
“It definitely makes a difference with this being my second year,” Moran said. “I think the first year, personally, I was focusing all I could on just trying to survive. I was trying to learn the pitchers, learn what they throw and how they were trying to work me. The second time is always a little familiar and you can get more comfortable. You’re aware of things like how well pitchers make adjustments at the major-league level. It seems like every series teams are making the adjustments, and I’m much more aware of what they are doing than last year.”
Moran's big game came against the organization that selected him in the first round in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft with the sixth overall pick. The Marlins traded him to the Astros during the 2014 season then Houston dealt him to Pirates prior to last season.
Moran talked about facing the Marlins in Miami:
You can read my Five Thoughts here.
• Jordan Lyles, right-hander, left hamstring tightness Monday, is on the 10-day DL and is scheduled to throw a bullpen Saturday.
• Trevor Williams, right-hander, is on the 10-day IL with a right side strain. He made a rehab assignment start Thursday with Class AAA Indianapolis and is expected by activated next week.
• Francisco Cervelli, catcher, is on the seven-day concussion IL and won't rejoin the team on this trip.
• Jameson Taillon, right-hander, is on the 60-day IL with a right elbow flexor tendon strain and is rehabbing in Bradenton, Fla.
• Keone Kela, right-hander, is on the 10-day IL with right shoulder inflammation and is rehabbing in Bradenton.
• Chris Stratton, right-hander, is on the 10-day IL with right side discomfort. He is on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis.
• Rookie Davis, right-hander, is on the 10-day DL with a right middle finger blister.
• Erik Gonzalez, shortstop, is on the 60-day IL with a left clavicle fracture.
• Nick Burdi, relief pitcher, is on the 60-day IL with right elbow/pain caused by a nerve problem and is rehabbing in Bradenton.
• Lonnie Chisenhall, outfielder, is on the 60-day IL with a left calf strain and is currently rehabbing at his home in North Carolina.
The middle game of the series is set for 6:10 p.m. Saturday, with Dario Agrazal starting and making his major-league debut. The Marlins will pitch Pablo Lopez (4-5, 4.26). Agrazal was 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Indianapolis while Lopez is 2-0 with 1.88 ERA in his last five starts. I will be on the coverage. The clubhouse opens to the media at 2:45 p.m.
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