Pittsburgh Pirates 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3: Stars And Stiffs

Ladies and gentle our long, national nightmare is over. The Pittsburgh Pirates have won a game and the eight game losing streak is over. Yay!

On Wednesday night the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 4-3. With the win, the Pirates snapped their eight game losing streak. And now they sit four and a half games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

The Pittsburgh Pirates got a strong start from Jameson Taillon, excellent bullpen work from Trevor Williams, and a great bounce back outing from closer Tony Watson. Even though making the postseason is unlikely, you still want to see the Pirates finish the season strong and tonight was a step toward that. Here are the Pittsburgh Pirates’ three stars and stiffs from Wednesday night’s victory.

STARS

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Jung Ho Kang continued his hot hitting in Wednesday night’s victory. Entering Wednesday’s game Kang was hitting .310 with a .714 slugging percentage since August 2nd. And Kang just added to those numbers in this victory.

Kang finished the night 3-for-4 with a run scored, two RBIs, and a solo home run. Kang’s solo home run led off the bottom of the eighth inning, broke a 3-3 tie, and prove to be the game winning hit. For the season, Kang now has 17 home runs which is a new career high. 

Since returning from the disabled list on Monday Kang is now 6-for-10 with three home runs, four runs scored, and five RBIs. After how badly Kang struggled in June and July it is great to see him finishing the season strong. And despite his struggles earlier in the season Kang has a higher slugging percentage, wOBA, wRC+, and walk rate than he did in his rookie campaign in 2015.

Relief pitcher Trevor Williams – Wednesday night was the Major League debut of right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams. After having a fantastic season as a starting pitcher at Triple-A in 2016 (2.53 ERA, 3.34 FIP) Williams earned a September call up from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though he made his debut out of the bullpen, Williams picked up right where he left off at Triple-A.

In three innings pitched on Wednesday night Trevor Williams allowed one unearned run on three hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. Williams flashed great stuff with a fastball that sat in the mid-90s, maxing out at 96 miles per hour, and a nice slider as well. I would love to see Williams make a start or two for the Pirates this season, especially since I believe he will be a big part of the Pirates’ rotation in 2017.

Second baseman Josh Harrison – Very quietly, Josh Harrison has been swinging a hot bat the past few weeks. Since August 9th Josh Harrison has hit .306 while being a spark plug for the Pirate offense. And Harrison recent strong hitting continued in the Pirates’ 4-3 victory.

In Wednesday night’s victory Harrison went 1-for-3 with a run scored, a sacrifice fly, and a RBI. Harrison also played his usual strong defense at second base. Hopefully Harrison can finish this season strong and then have it roll over into 2017.

STIFFS

Right fielder Adam Frazier – Adam Frazier entered this game for defense in the top of the sixth inning. That is when the Pittsburgh Pirates’ utility man took over for Matt Joyce in right field. And this is where Frazier’s roller coaster night would begin.

Adam Frazier had just one at bat on Wednesday night and he recorded a double in this at bat. However, his defense nearly cost the Pirates on Wednesday. Leading off the top of the sixth inning Yadier Molina hit a ball into the right-center field gap. Frazier over ran the ball and this caused it to clank off of his glove and fall to the ground.

Frazier’s outfield snafu allowed Molina to reach second base to lead off the inning. Molina was able to move to third base on a Brandon Moss ground out, and then scored on a single that snuck past the Pirates’ drawn in infield. This led to the Cardinals tying the game at three with an unearned run.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli – Francisco Cervelli did some good in Wednesday night’s victory. However, his bad out weighed the good. And that is why he finds himself on the stiffs list.

Cervelli finished the night 1-for-4 with a run scored at the plate. Cervy also threw out Randal Grichuk when he attempted to steal second base to end the top of the sixth inning. But, Cervelli stranding four base runners.

This included a very bad at bat in the bottom of the first inning. After Mike Leake walked Matt Joyce to load the bases with just one out, Francisco Cervelli stepped to the plate. Cervelli swung at the first pitch he saw and hit into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. Luckily, this poor at bat by Cervelli did not cost the Pirates in this game.

Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – Andrew McCutchen has been swinging a hot bat lately. However, Wednesday night was not a good night for the Bucco center fielder.

McCutchen finished the game 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. McCutchen also stranded a trio of base runners on Wednesday night. With the way McCutchen has been swinging the bat lately, I look for him to have a big bounce back game tomorrow night against Cincinnati.

Wednesday night was a huge win for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are now just one game under .500 at 68-69, and pulled within four and a half games of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Pirates is a four game series with the Cincinnati Reds. Game one is tomorrow night at PNC Park at 7:05 PM. The Pirates will send Ivan Nova to the mound where he will be opposed by Dan Straily.

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