The Pirates got a much-needed win tonight, as the offense showed some promising signs and A.J. Burnett efficiently waded through seven innings for the win.
"Our offense was the stopper tonight," Burnett said. "We came out swinging the bats and showed the determination of these guys not to quit, not to give up. You got some men, you got some pros, going through stuff and they're not fazed by it."
After two forgettable nights, in which small crowds and a listless offense created atmospheres more conducive to mind-wandering and occasional moments of sad existential reflection than engaged baseball-viewing, tonight a fairly large and enthusiastic crowd soaked in a thoroughly entertaining game.
"All of it was fun to watch tonight," Clint Hurdle said. "It was fun for everybody."
Early this afternoon, Neil Walker exited the batting cages in the bowels of PNC Park and let out an uncharacteristic shout, "Tonight's the night! Tonight's the night!" And for at least for one game, he was right.
Not only did Walker have a big game (2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored), but the whole Pirates offense returned to a form that was reminiscent of 2014. They drew walks and got hits up and down the lineup. And when they got on base, they put continuous pressure on the Reds defense via the running game.
"It's good and it's what we're capable of doing on a daily basis," McCutchen said. "Putting those runs up, we have the team to do it. We're not where we need to be yet. But when we get hot we're really going to get hot."
Perhaps more important than anything else, Andrew McCutchen showed shades of his true self by slashing two hits to left field and drawing a walk.
"He swung the bat better," Hurdle said. "He's been looking to find that connection between his lower and upper half and there was some definite improvement and progress tonight."
"All I'm doing is going out there and keep playing the game," McCutchen said.
Another solid start
A.J. Burnett gave the Pirates another very good start, primarily by displaying good control and inducing ground balls.
"He's on a mission in his own way," Hurdle said. "He's going to take care of what he can control and he has."
Burnett allowed two runs in seven innings. He walked two, struck out four and netted 12 groundouts.
"It's just battling," Burnett said. "You hit your spots more than not and let your offense work and that's what I did tonight. I fell behind a few hitters, but I felt good enough where if I made a good pitch I could get guys to hit it on the ground, and our guys could make plays."