Postgame: Edinson Volquez navigates through early trouble on way to pitching a gem

Justin K. Aller

Postgame notes:

McCutchen gets his home run a day later

Yesterday, Andrew McCutchen came up just short of a cycle when his long fly ball knocked off the Clemente Wall in his last at bat. In his first plate appearance today, he hit a no-doubt two-run home run into the Phillies' bullpen.

"Dead fastball down the middle," McCutchen said of the ball he hit for a home run. "I was able to get that first pitch and I was ready to hit it."

Volquez gives Bucs a gem

Edinson Volquez walked four batters and allowed one hit in the first three innings, but he escaped without allowing a run. In the first, the Phillies put men at first and third with two outs before Volquez got Marlon Byrd to fly out to center. In the third, Byrd had another two out opportunity, this time with the bases loaded, and struck out. The only damage Volquez suffered was on a solo home run by Cody Asche in the fourth. It's the first home run he has allowed since June 1.

Volquez's final line reads: seven innings pitched, four hits, one run. His 66 game score makes it his third "gem" of the year, equaling his total from last season.

"He's continued to find ways to navigate out of the stretch," Hurdle said of Volquez getting out of trouble today. "I thought [Chris] Stewart did a fantastic job with him behind the plate."

When asked how he managed to escape from trouble early, Volquez said, "You've got to ask that question to Ray [Searage], he's the man."

"He slowed me down. I was too fast to the plate and everything was late with my hands to get the ball where I wanted. After I finished that inning he came to me and said ‘hey, slow down, stay back and make the better pitches' and I did."

Over the last 14 games, Pirates' starting pitchers are 9-3, and have allowed only 74 hits and one home run in 93 innings pitched. They've posted a 2.32 ERA during the stretch.

Mercer just keeps getting on base

Jordy Mercer continued his mini-tear by getting on base in each of his three plate appearances. He now has nine hits in his last 14 at bats, and has reached base in 13 of his last 18 plate appearances.

"He's swinging the bat so well," Hurdle said. "He's in a good place. His confidence is big up there. He's been hitting some breaking balls as well, it's not just fastballs."

Rolling

The Bucs are now 28-15 in their last 43 games. Their best 43 game run in 2013 was 30-13, between May 14th and June 30th.

Locke vs. Burnett tomorrow

Tomorrow's game will feature an intriguing matchup as A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke square off. Burnett said he was "one hundred percent" looking forward to pitching against his former teammate and still friend.

McCutchen said that the matchup is a good one for the Bucs because they know a lot about how Burnett pitches.

"If anything it works out for us because we know what he has, unlike going against a new guy like we did today. We know what he's going to do and what he's going to try to do. Hopefully we can finally get a sweep."

Volquez calls out Liriano

Volquez has one of the more jovial personalities in the Pirates' clubhouse. He is almost always smiling and joking around either at his or a teammate's expense.

Today when he was asked about his RBI in the third, he stopped the interview with reporters, looked at few lockers over at Francisco Liriano and said, "Frankie! You hear that? RBI brother. I got two! How many you got?"

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