The Force was certainly with Jeanmar Gomez and the Pittsburgh Pirates as they closed out a perfect 5-0 west coast stay, winning a season-high sixth game in a row, in dropping the Seattle Mariners 4-2. Finishing up their overall road trip at 7-2, the Pirates pulled to within 1/2 game of the division leading St. Louis Cardinals as they head home to face the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
Neil “Sky” Walker rocketed a two-run shot into the right field seats in the 4th inning off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead, but it was Jordy “Jar Jar” Mercer‘s lightsaber of a line drive up the middle in the 9th that scored Pedro Alavrez from second base with the eventual game winner to win the day for the rebel forces at Safeco Field. A Starling Marte strikeout/run-scoring wild pitch scoring Travis Snider from third for their fourth and final run proved the Force was indeed with the Bucs in this one.
In his first start back from a two-week stint on the disabled list with tightness in his right forearm, the former Cleveland Indian castoff looked sharp in limiting Seattle to one unearned run on just three hits hits in his limited five innings of work. If not for a 6th inning home run by the red hot Raul Ibanez, his 18th, off the normally stingy Pirate reliever Justin Wilson, Gomez would have notched his third win of the season. Since entering the starting rotation back in the beginning of May, the Pirates have not lost a game in any of his eight starts.
Call it the Force, grit, determination or whatever else you like, but this Pirate team does not like to lose. Surviving 11 strikeouts by the starter Hernandez, the scrappy Bucs kept it close till the All-Star Mariner was finally out of the game in the 8th and it became a battle of the bullpens, where more times than not, the Pirates are going to win. It proved to be the case once again, as Mark Melancon did his Jason Grilli imitation and closed out the 9th to send the team soaring 18 games over .500, a mark that has not been reached this early in the season by any Pirate club since the days of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell back in 1972.
After 20 years of futility, the Force is indeed with the Pittsburgh Pirates these days.