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Poll: The Pirates' best pitching appearance of 2014

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Rich Schultz

Thanks for your nominations for the Pirates' best pitching appearance of the season. Here are the best/coolest ones I could find, based on game scores, my faulty memory, and your recommendations. There isn't video for all of them, but try not to let that sway your choice. Most of these outings were, of course, in September, when the Pirates' pitching staff really turned on the jets.

-P- Travis Snider strikes out Joey Votto, June 18

sniderstrikesout

-P- Vance Worley throws complete game shutout against Giants, July 28 (box, video). Game Score: 81. Rob Biertempfel:

It took the Giants 12 batters to hit a ball out of the infield. Buster Posey's fly ball to right fielder Gregory Polanco to end the fourth inning was the first time a Pirates outfielder had to move his feet.

"It didn't bother me at all," left fielder Josh Harrison said. "It wasn't the kind of boring where we're out there for 15 minutes. It was the kind of boring where we're out there for three minutes then we're going right back in (to the dugout). It's a good feeling."

-P- John Holdzkom strikes out the side in first-ever big league appearance, September 2 (box). And yes, you can trust the video -- the first batter reached only after Holdzkom struck him out.

-P- Jeff Locke strikes out nine Phillies, September 8 (box). Game Score: 76. Recap:

Forget about the Phillies' four-run total -- three of those came on a sloppy eighth inning from Jared Hughes and Tony Watson. Locke allowed just one run in seven innings and looked great doing it, striking out nine, placing his fastball well much of the night and showing none of the control problems that have dogged him in recent starts.

-P- Francisco Liriano strikes out 12 Phillies, September 11 (box, video). Game Score: 84. Clint Hurdle:

That was a dominant start, very well could have been his best outing by far this season. Fastball command was there. He used the fastball early in counts to get ahead, the backdoor slider worked extremely well. … The changeup worked extremely well. He has the ability for a hitter to see a strike out of his hand and for the ball just to dive, disappear, whether it’s the changeup or the slider. It’s just a hard pitch to hit.

-P- Edinson Volquez strikes out 10 Braves, September 25 (box, video). Game Score: 78. Recap:

It was a brilliant performance for Edinson Volquez, who had a filthy curveball today but who was pretty much unhittable no matter what he threw, also getting strikeouts with his fastball and changeup. Volquez struck out the first four batters he faced as he beat his previous season high in strikeouts by three, whiffing 10 batters overall. It's possible -- although hopefully not likely -- that this was Volquez's last outing as a Pirate, and if so, there's nothing to do but rule his signing a success.

-P- Gerrit Cole strikes out 12 Reds, September 28 (box). Game Score: 77. Recap:

Amidst some controversy, the Pirates made a go-for-it move by having Gerrit Cole start today. So their plan looked something like this:

1) Cole pitches brilliantly.
2) The Pirates score some runs against Johnny Cueto.
3) The Diamondbacks beat Adam Wainwright.
4) Jeff Locke beats the Cardinals Monday!

No problemo! And, to the Pirates' credit, the first step of the plan worked very well. Cole was fantastic -- he gave up a run in the first but was toxic after that, striking out 12 batters in seven innings and giving up just four hits.