Yeah, it was hot today. But it was well worth sitting in the heat to see the Bucs get a big win on America’s birthday. The win ended the official first half of the season, and put the Pirates in first place by a half game (Reds lost later in LA, putting the Pirates a full game up.)
The first two innings looked pretty bad for Kevin Correia. He pitched a 1-2-3 first, but the Astros were hitting the ball hard. Correia gave up two runs in the second inning, and Houston still had runners on the corners with one out. The pitcher laid down a bunt, but KC made an awesome play to field it and fire to third, catching the runner with too big of a lead.
The Bucs answered in the bottom of the frame with a string of absolutely perfectly executed at-bats and baserunning. Casey McGehee led off with an eight-pitch free pass off of Dallas Keuchel, and Garrett Jones legged out a double. Pedro worked another walk, seeing five curveballs in his AB. Michael McKenry hit a sac-fly, and everyone, including Pedro moved up a base. Clint Barmes followed up with a single to LF, scoring Jones. Barmes tried to take second, intentionally getting caught in a rundown, knowing that Correia was up next. He stayed alive long enough for Pedro to score, and the Bucs went up 3-2. This whole inning was full of fundamentally-sound and heads-up baseball. That’s what good teams do.
Kevin settled down after the second inning, pitching two straight three-up-three-down innings before giving up another run on a fielder’s choice in the fifth. The Fort drove in his second RBI with a double after Jones got his second hit off of a lefty, making it 4-2. Drew Sutton led off the bottom half of the fifth with a double, but Neil Walker couldn’t advance him and Cutch was intentionally walked, so it was wasted. Correia was done after the sixth inning, and if you take it for what it’s worth, it was a solid start. Giving up three runs in six innings will give your team a chance to win.
Brad Lincoln came out in relief, and got himself in to a jam. The Astros had runners on the corners with two down, and Jose Altuve swiped second (no surprise.) Lincoln buckled down, and got Jed Lowrie to hit a weak groundball to first, escaping the inning with the lead intact.
Back-to-back leadoff singles by Walker and Cutch got the Bucs set up to add on in the seventh. Jones reached on an error, loading the bases for Pedro. He stroked a hanging curveball from lefty Fernando Abad right back up the middle, scoring two runs to make it 6-3. He continues to have impressive at-bats, and is showing signs of that consistent threat that we all hoped he could become.
Jason Grilli set the ‘Stros down in order, thanks to a nice sliding grab by Gorkys Hernandez, and Joel Hanrahan closed the door in the ninth, but not before giving up a leadoff solo homer. The 6-4 win was the Pirates’ 45th of the year, putting them on pace for an even 90.
Pirates (45-36) – Astros (32-50)
Win: Correia (5-6)
Loss: Keuchel (1-1)
Save: Hanrahan (21)