Gems, gems and more gems
Pirates' starters tossed two more gems this evening, making it three straight for the series and five out of eight for the season in games played against the Cardinals. (Bill James defines gems as game scores of 65 or higher.)
In the first game A.J. Burnett posted a game score of 73; in game two Brandon Cumpton scored a 75.
The string of three gems in a row is the longest of the season.
"Indescribable," Cumpton said about getting his first win. "Just tried to fill it up, throw strikes and my defense made plays behind me."
Cumpton credited "pitching in" for his success tonight. "We were just attacking with the fastball and pitching in. Pitching in has kind of been my thing all year and I didn't want to run away from that up here. Just tried to force the issue and get ground balls."
On the day, the Cardinals went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position; the Pirates went 3-for-22. St. Louis' batting average in these situations dropped five points to .334; Pittsburgh's dropped two points to .223.
Hurdle loves the energy at PNC
PNC Park was electric tonight, especially during the second game. The best description of the atmosphere in the park tonight comes from a comment I read on Twitter in which someone compared it to a college basketball arena. Clint Hurdle has often said how one of the things that excites him the most about the team's success this year is how the city seems to really getting behind the team.
"I just tell them to keep coming out, we love the support. We love the colors here. We love the flags. We love the chants. We feel like we have a home field advantage every time we take the field here. They've been great," Hurdle said after the game. "We want more, we've got to do more. We've probably got to continue to do more to earn more from them. Everybody's got their own level of confidence of when they're going to buy in. And there's probably still some waiting to see. We've got keep playing good baseball."
Following their sweep of the Cardinals the Pirates now have the best record in baseball, are in first place in the National Central by 1.5 games and are 10 games clear for the final playoff spot. They are also the only team in Major League Baseball with a winning percentage over .600.
While Pirates' fans are rightfully excited about the team's position heading into the last day of July, as you'd expect Pirates Hurdle downplayed the meaningfulness of being in first place, "It doesn't mean anything right now. It means we've won 64 games and right now we're in first place. As I've said in the past, we're pleased but not satisfied."
Cardinals offensive woes
The Cardinals have now lost six games in a row and have scored less than two runs in each of their losses.
Jeff Locke faces off against Adam Wainwright tomorrow night at PNC Park.