Good outing for Charlie Morton, who relied very heavily on fastballs/sinkers that the Cardinals really couldn't do much with. They just hit a lot of weak grounders around the infield. Yahoo's box score says that Morton got 15 groundball outs and one out in the air. He had five walks, which isn't good, but that's partly due to his pitches having a ton of movement. And he did throw 57 of 97 pitches for strikes, which isn't great, but certainly isn't indicative of someone who's having an incredibly hard time getting the ball into the zone. Morton also pitched inside a bunch. He allowed only three hits, including one double, in six innings. Fangraphs says Morton threw about 40 percent sliders, curves and changeups last year, and while I haven't yet seen a breakdown of what he threw today, the distribution of pitches didn't look anything like that - it was mostly just one fastball or sinker after another, and that makes Morton an entirely different kind of pitcher.
The Pirates offense took five innings to get to Kyle Lohse, but then they really did, as Neil Walker hit a two-run double and then Andrew McCutchen homered to bring him home. Lohse left both pitches up, and Walker and McCutchen crushed them. Doubles and homers from those two seem to be major themes of this season so far.
The Bucs got into the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead, but unfortunately there was another ... uh ... entertaining eighth inning courtesy of Evan Meek and the Pirates defense. After a single, a walk, and an RBI single, though, Clint Hurdle wisely got Meek out of there and surprisingly brought in Mike Crotta, making his second career appearance. Crotta got Allen Craig to ground it to second, but Ronny Cedeno (there he is again!) bungled it, preventing the Pirates from getting the double play. Crotta, whose sinking stuff looked filthy today, then struck out David Freese, and the Pirates turned to Joel Hanrahan, who mowed down four straight Cardinals en route to a 4-3 Pirates win.
This was an encouraging game overall - Morton was better than his five-walk line suggests, and the continued hot hitting by Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen (and, to a lesser extent, Jose Tabata) has been enough to carry the Pirates' offense. I'm not sure what to make of Meek, who looked terrific on Opening Day but has struggled in two outings since then. His command has been very poor. It has only been two bad outings, though, and it probably isn't yet time to hit the panic button.