The famed Oakland Raiders‘ owner Al Davis was once quoted saying, “Just win, baby!”
Well, the Pittsburgh Pirates keep finding ways and unheralded pitchers to do it with.
This time is was Vin Mazzaro.
After a two-hour and 20-minute rain delay, starter Charlie Morton took a seat on the bench and Mazzaro took his place on the mound. All the 26-year-old right-hander did was retire all 15 batters he faced in order during his five-inning relief stint as the Pirates rallied to tie the game at one in the bottom of the eighth, before finally going on to win it 2-1 some 6.5 hours later after the first pitch of the day on Russell Martin‘s RBI single up the middle in the 14th, sending the streaking Pirates to their ninth straight victory. The win increased the team’s Central division lead to two games over the St.Louis Cardinals, who earlier in the day lost their second of three games to the Oakland Athletic’s, 7-2.
Acquiring Mazzaro in a trade with the Kansas City Royals last November for a pair of minor leaguers, the transaction at the time didn’t make much of a blip on the radar, as the Hackensack, NJ native had a near 7.00 ERA in his two-years work with the Royals. Give GM Neil Huntington credit though for finding another diamond in the rough, as Mazzaro has been nothing short of excellent in his 39 innings with the Pirates this year. At 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA, the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder has not given up an earned run in his last eight innings of relief work and was a major factor in the comeback win, as well as keeping the starting rotation intact. Without Mazzaro’s extended outing, the Pirates more than likely would have had to go to starter Jeff Locke, who was warming up in the bullpen in the top half of the 14th; a move manager Clint Hurdle obviously would not have wanted to make.
The Pirates’ bullpen continued to prove why they’re the best in either league, as five relievers piled on an additional seven shutout innings on top of Mazzaro’s perfect five. In a battle of bullpens, the Pirates usually win and today’s game proved no different as the Buccos relievers notched their 18th win of the season. Winning pitcher Tony Watson‘s three scoreless innings closed out another stellar day for the relief corp — 12 innings of relief work, allowing just two hits and no runs. It doesn’t get any better than that.
At the halfway mark of the season now, the first place Pittsburgh Pirates, at 51-30, have the best record in MLB.
“Just win, baby!”
Yep, that’s all the Pirates are doing lately.