|AJ had the right stuff today (photo Jared Wickersham/Getty Images)|
He had plenty of leather behind him - Josh, Andrew, Sean Rod (then in right) and JHK all made web gem plays to support Burnett. But it was a tale of two games - Hamels pumped strikes, and the Pirate weren't very aggressive, batting in the hole seemingly every at bat. Then Ken Giles and Luis Garcia each worked an inning, dropping sliders at the shoe tops, and the Pirates swung like little leaguers getting their first look at the hook.
Still, the Bucs kept coming. In the ninth, they had S-Rod on second via a Baltimore chop and bunt, with Gregory on first, intentionally walked with the open base, against Giles. Pinch hitters Neil Walker and Pedro both waved at shoe-top spinners to whiff, with Alvarez's at-bat aggravated by a bad strike call by plate ump Cory Blaser, who missed more than one for both teams. This one was bad enough that it got Clint Hurdle ejected. Jared Hughes came in and got three easy grounders in the 10th.
Jonathan Papelbon came in and gave up a one-out double to Starling. Cutch took four wide ones, and Jung-Ho followed with a liner to left, but it was reeled in by Ben Revere as the Philly outfield was playing shallow, anticipating a possible play at home. Rodriguez hit a lazy fly to right, and it was on to the 11th.
Antonio Bastardo worked a nice inning, giving up an infield single that he should have fielded but caused no damage. Papelbon worked another frame. With two away, The Kid lined a bullet into center. Then pinch hitter Jose Tabata bounced weakly to short but hustled up the line, and Freddy Galvis blinked, making the game's only error by hopping his throw into the stands. Josh got to hit thanks to that reprieve, and banged a fastball that was meant for his hands but ran back over the plate a bit into the grass for the walkoff win. (He was rewarded by a cream pie in the face during the post-game interview by AJ, just like old times).
We hope that the Bucs find a GPS to the plate soon; they stranded 13 runners today. It was a tougher series than it needed to be with Pittsburgh run production in the freezer, but the Pirates have won four in a row (three by shutout). Next they have the White Sox in their sights, with Frankie facing Carlos Rodon tomorrow night.
- Starling Marte had his third straight three-hit game and has a five game hitting streak.
- AJ now has the second lowest ERA in the NL at 1.89, behind matey Gerrit Cole. He also moved into 38th place all-time in whiffs with 2,444.
- Josh was just a few days late of making his walk-off hit an annual affair. His last one was on 6/27/14 with a double vs the Mets in the 11th to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win.
- Today was the Pirates' sixth sweep of the season, best in the majors. It was also their ninth daylight win at PNC Park this year without a loss.
- The Bucs drew 34,518 to today's game.