It's funny to see the Pirates play these last two games with the sort of spirit they've supposedly lacked for the past couple months. The Pirates were in prime June form in beating the Braves tonight, 5-1. Maybe you could argue that, now that the possibility of a winning season is gone, the Pirates are simply playing as if they've got nothing left to lose. But I think it's probably mostly just the case that the Pirates' mental state these past couple of months matters less than we think. They haven't given up. They just aren't that great a team.
The Bucs got one in the first when Starling Marte led off with a double, then came home on two grounders. They got another the next inning when Tommy Hanson nicked Josh Harrison, who trotted to first and then stole second before coming home on one of those patented Clint Barmes soft hits to shallow left.
The Braves cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth when Lyle Overbay and Juan Francisco doubled. But the Pirates kept fighting. Harrison nearly made a spectacular play in the fifth on a ground ball by Jose Constanza, but Kevin Correia got through the rest of the inning without a problem. Then, in the bottom of the inning, Starling Marte led off with a single, then stole second and came home on a double by Alex Presley. Then Garrett Jones hit a Hanson fastball for his 27th homer of the year, making it 5-1.
Clint Hurdle pulled Correia after he allowed a single to Reed Johnson with two outs in the seventh, and Justin Wilson came on to face Eric Hinske, who doubled to center. The ball bounced off Andrew McCutchen's glove, but Alex Presley backed him up, and the ball went from the cutoff man to Michael McKenry just in time for Johnson to try to leap over him. McKenry made the tag, and the inning was over. Nobody on the Pirates' side really did anything spectacular, but that's the kind of play it seems like the Pirates would have messed up a few weeks ago. It's only been a couple games, but suddenly these kinds of things seem to be going right.
Marte, by the way, went 3-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases. This comes after he homered and tripled yesterday. Correia had a very strong start (albeit with the benefit of some pretty kind strike calls), striking out five and walking one, in what's likely to be his last outing as a Pirate.