Jeff Locke pitched brilliantly, striking out six, walking none and allowing just two hits while throwing only 89 pitches over eight shutout innings, and the Pirates beat the Indians 1-0 on Saturday.
Locke hit a batter in the first and allowed a couple singles in the second, and then retired the last 19 batters he faced against a good Indians lineup. Since it was only a one-run game, the Pirates replaced Locke with a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth.
Locke mixed his pitches well and got a ton of key outs with his changeup. He also induced 11 ground balls. This wasn't just a great Jeff Locke start, it was a great start from anyone. In a year filled with great Pirates pitching, Locke's game score of 84 was higher than that of any Bucs pitching performance this year except Francisco Liriano's 12-strikeout performance on June 15.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this last month has shown why you don't give up too quickly on a decent player. Since June 6, Locke has lowered his ERA from 5.37 to 4.15, pitching at least six shutout innings twice in that span.
I can't fault anyone for finding Locke's performance today unlikely, obviously. But Cody Anderson's eight-inning, one-run performance was probably equally unlikely, even against a lineup that hasn't always been productive lately. While the Bucs couldn't do much against him, though, but they did get a double from Josh Harrison in the sixth, and then Neil Walker hit a hard grounder to right for a single. With Locke rolling, that's all they would need. Mark Melancon allowed a walk and an infield single in the ninth, but got Michael Brantley to ground out to complete the save.