Notes and quotes from the postgame:
Tonight's 9-1 thumping of the Red Sox provided a few hours of welcome reprieve from the stress of a tight pennant race. With the weekend promising to deliver a storm of baseball tension, both Pirates players and fans appreciated the satisfying calm of a blowout.
"It's nice to have," Clint Hurdle said of the no-doubt victory. "And it's good to give guys some work in the bullpen that need work to stay sharp ... And it's nice to stay away from the other guys who pitched last night."
"For sure," Ike Davis said, when asks if it helped to get a win like this in the middle of a tense race. "It was good to get a big lead early and kind of breathe a little bit throughout the game. But we've been battling all season so we're kind of used to it by now. We're going to have close games from here out so we might as well keep [battling]."
A winning formula
For the second night in a row, the Pirates relied on the formula of home runs, solid defense and pitching around threats.
"We got some pitches to hit and we didn't miss them in some key situations," Hurdle said of the offensive outburst. "We'll take it anytime. We'd like to have it every night. It's the big leagues though. It's not something that we do a lot of. We scratch, we claw, so it was good to see these guys open up."
Francisco Liriano was not sharp, but he was able to get important outs in key situations. It started in the first inning, when the Red Sox loaded the bases on a leadoff single and back-to-back two-out walks. Liriano went to a 3-0 count on Will Middlebrooks, but then got a very generous strike call to prolong the at bat. On the next pitch Middlebrooks grounded into a 6-4 force play to end the inning.
Liriano allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in five of the six innings he pitched, but ended up only conceding one run. For the night, his line reads: six innings pitched, three hits, five walks and only two strike outs. It was a different Liriano than we saw Sunday, when he struck out 12 and walk only two.
"I didn't have good control of my fastball today," Liriano said. "It was a battle out there for me, just trying to execute pitches, make good pitches and I got a couple of little plays. Just a tough night location-wise, but I'll take it."
Liriano added that he "feels great physically." "For me now, just trying to go as deep into as many games as I can," he said.
Defensively, Clint Barmes had another very fine night filling in for Jordy Mercer. He also went 3-for-4 and hit a key two-run double in the second inning.
"He came in and played solid defense," Hurdle said of Barmes. "A couple of very, very nice plays and of course swung the bat very well."
History will be made
For the first time in franchise history the Pirates have nine players on their roster with ten or more home runs. The feat was accomplished when Davis hit a three-run home run in the fifth.
"I think it is pretty cool," Davis said. "Especially a lot of guys that are platoon players and started as bench players and got jobs, been up and down. To do that is pretty amazing, I think."
Gregory Polanco, who hit his seventh of home run of the season in the first inning, is the player next closest to reaching double-digit home runs.
The major league record is 11 players with 10-plus homers, held by the 2004 Tigers.
Also, with the offensive outburst tonight, Pirates position players (i.e. pitchers not included) now have a 117 wRC+. At this pace, the 2014 Pirates are tied for third most productive offense relative to league average in franchise history. The 1971 Pirates lead the way with a 121 wRC+, followed by the 1909 Bucs, 118.