Manager Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates are sleeping well out on the west coast. Hitting on all four cylinders of their latest road trip, the Pirates are now officially on a roll, winning a season-high five games in a row out on the left coast as they advanced their overall record to 17 games above .500 for the first time this year.
It was bombs away in Seattle as the Pirates played long ball, blasting out a single-game high of five home runs in their 9-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Starling Marte led the way with his seventh and eighth homers of the season and Brandon Inge added his first with a three-run shot as the Pirates scored five runs early in the 2nd inning and never looked back.
Newly-anointed Pirate ace Jeff Locke continued his season-long dominance of hitters in limiting the Mariners to two runs on just four hits, as he worked seven innings to raise his record to 7-1. Locke has now pitched 96 innings while allowing just 66 hits. His 2.06 ERA is second in the NL only to the New York Mets‘ Matt Harvey‘s 2.05.
The team has one more game in Seattle today and they’d like nothing more than to complete a five-game west-coast sweep of the Mariners and Angles before heading back east for a six-game homestand against the underachieving Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies.
In going 15-10 last month in arguably one of their toughest stretches of schedule, the Pirates are moving full speed ahead as they look to overtake the equally-impressive St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the Central Division. With 12 of their next 15 games at home, the Bucs look poised to sail into the All-Star break, at the very least, atop the wild card standings.
It’s hard to point out any one single player responsible for the Pirates current year so far. It’s truly been a team effort, as various members have stepped up at different times to lead the team with players like Marte, Russell Martin and now Pedro Alvarez all having hot periods with the bat over the course of the season.
Andrew McCutchen has yet to catch fire though, and the prognosis for the Pirates can only improve when he does. For now, the Pirates and Clint Hurdle have to be sleeping well. Winning has that effect.