It's always nice to win two of three on the road, especially against one of the league's better teams. The Pirates pulled off an 8-4 win over the Rockies Sunday thanks in part to a four-run second inning (which featured a two-out, two-run triple by newcomer Xavier Paul). The Bucs also scored four runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Charlie Morton, an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen, and a two-run single by Garrett Jones.
Charlie Morton picked up the win despite allowing five walks, recalling his first couple starts of the season, when he got good results despite walking lots of batters and striking out very few. Only 56 of his 104 pitches were for strikes.
There was a moment in the sixth when it looked like the Rockies might get back into the game after being down 8-2 - Morton allowed a single to Seth Smith and a walk to Chris Iannetta, and then Clint Hurdle replaced Morton with Mike Crotta, who allowed a walk to Jonathan Herrera (who's always more than happy to take a walk, especially if a Pirates pitcher is on the hill) and a double to Dexter Fowler. What can one say? Crotta is a rookie, and not a highly-touted one at that, and he hasn't been especially reliable this year. (And neither have the umps who have called strikes and balls for him.)
So the Pirates brought in Joe Beimel, who stranded the two remaining runners and then pitched a scoreless seventh for good measure. And then Jose Veras came in and was lethal, as always. And then it was Joel Hanrahan - lethal. We're lucky the Pirates have these guys. Veras now has 19 strikeouts and three walks in 11.1 innings and a WHIP of 0.88. If he can keep up anything like this, he'll be easily the best Pirates minor-league signing since - what? Garrett Jones in 2009? Salomon Torres in 2001? Hopefully, the Pirates will have something to show for the acquisition next year, whether that's Veras himself or something nifty in a trade - if he keeps this up, he'll make a nice target for some contender seeking a setup man.
Offensively, the Pirates did have seven walks today, but they also had 11 strikeouts, raising their total for the year to 237 in 28 games. That projects to 1,371 for the whole season, which would be the second-most in history, behind the 2010 Diamondbacks. That's not worrisome in itself - a good 2010 Rays team had 1,292 strikeouts. But it would be a lot easier to take if so many of the Pirates' hitters weren't young, and if the strikeouts weren't coming from players like Pedro Alvarez who are struggling. Cptn Awesome joked in Sunday's gamethread that "Watching Pedro flail at that second strike just made me realize how awful it must have been for my parents watching me play Little League." Alvarez reached base three times today and only struck out once, but obviously, the strikeouts for players like him and Neil Walker remain important to monitor going forward.