A.J. who? Wandy who?
Not many teams can lose their number one and number two starting pitchers and not miss a beat. But that’s exactly what’s happened with the Pittsburgh Pirates this year, losing both A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez to injuries, the team has continued to roll.
Since the pair of ace pitchers went of the disabled list back in the early-June, the Pirates have gone 12-5, including their current eight-game tear of “undefeatedness”, and have now overtaken the Atlanta Braves with an MLB-leading team ERA of 3.17.
It seems whoever the Pirates march out there to take the hill ends up pitching like an ace. Whether it’s prior unknowns like Jeff Locke or Jeanmar Gomez, or rookies like Gerrit Cole or Brandon Cumpton, or revival projects like Charlie Morton or tonight’ starter Francisco Liriano, it doesn’t matter — it’s five, six or seven innings of two, one or no-run baseball. And once in the eighth inning with the lead, it’s been lights-out game-over with the one-two punch of Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli, hands-down the best set-up/closer combination in baseball today.
Pitching before a sell-out crowd of 38,438, Liriano once again followed the script in pitching six strong innings of one-run baseball before handing it over to the league’s best bullpen to close it out. Lowering his ERA to an impressive 2.23, The Invisible Man has been more than the Pirates could have ever hoped for when they signed the free agent last winter, as the left-hander is pitching some of the best baseball of his checkered eight-year career.
A pair of solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones was all the home team needed to nip the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 for their eighth win in a row and win their MLB-best 50th game of the season; the first time that’s been done in franchise history before July 1st. That’s right, franchise history! Not bad for a team that many “experts” were picking to finish last once again this season.
Jason Grilli pitched the 9th for his MLB-leading 27th save of the season.
The Pirates will try for a ninth straight win tomorrow as they go for a sweep of their three-game series with the slumping Brewers. Charlie Morton takes the hill.
Not that it matters who starts these days. The Pirates will continue to roll.