Please forgive me if any of what follows is badly written -- I've seen the Pirates "hit" and "score runs" in the past, but it seems like years ago, so I'm not sure I'll be able to describe it properly now that it's finally happened again. But here goes: The Bucs' offense scored seven runs tonight, and the Pirates snapped their five-game losing streak in what turned out to be a blowout win over the Reds.
The Pirates got off to a great start, with a 1-2-3 inning from A.J. Burnett, a line-drive double for Gregory Polanco, and a run-scoring single for Neil Walker. Andrew McCutchen then walked; he didn't end up scoring, but it was nice to see him with a successful plate appearance.
The Reds tied the game in the fourth. Marlon Byrd walked, but Burnett induced a double play into the shift by Joey Votto. That turned out to be important, since the next batter,
Barry Bonds Todd Frazier lined a fastball to deep left for a solo homer, his fourth against the Pirates this season.
But the Bucs, who had already scored an entire run, somehow weren't done scoring. Neil Walker led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, and McCutchen followed by pulling a double (!!!). Starling Marte brought Walker home with a sacrifice fly, and Pedro Alvarez doubled to make it 3-1.
The Reds got one back in a sixth innning that began with a Byrd triple, but an inning and a half later, the Pirates were at it again, this time against human gas can Kevin Gregg. As with the fifth, it was the heart of the Pirates' order that got things going. Walker walked, McCutchen hit a line-drive (!!!) single, and Marte brought home a run with a single up the middle. After Alvarez struck out, Josh Harrison walked (!!!!!) to load the bases.
By this point, I was expecting Jordy Mercer to switch to batting left-handed before hitting a majestic grand slam into the river or something. Kevin Gregg got Harrison to walk; he's clearly Johnny Cueto's cosmic opposite, a pitcher who can make the Pirates' hitters do good things they haven't done in weeks, or maybe months, or years. Actually, Gregg whiffed Mercer, but he gave up a two-run single to Chris Stewart to make it 6-2.
In the eighth, Polanco led off with a walk, moved up with an easy stolen base, and came home on another single by Andrew McCutchen, who capped what turned into a three-hit night. It's just one game, but he looked like a totally different hitter tonight.
To sum things up, then, Burnett pitched seven strong innings (no surprise there). McCutchen, Walker, Polanco, Marte and Stewart all had good games. Even the much-maligned Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth (although he took a questionable risk to get a double play and nearly gave up a homer to Devin Mesoraco). And the Pirates cruised to an easy 7-2 win. It's been awhile since the Bucs' offense did anything but struggle. Hopefully this game will be the start of something new.