Back-to-back second inning jacks were all the offense Chris Archer needed Thursday, as he went on to spin six strong innings in a 6-1 Pirate win over the Atlanta Braves.
In the top of the first, Chris Archer was bent over with his glove on his knee as Freddie Freeman rounded the bases. The Braves’ first baseman had put a two-seamer in the bushes in center.
Archer was upset not just because Freeman went deep, but because it should not have been a fastball. He shook off his catcher, Jacob Stallings.
“For the rest of the day, I went with pretty much what he called and we were pretty successful,” Archer said.
Stallings could have told Archer “I told you so,” but he didn’t for two reason. The first is Stallings gave his pitcher credit for the times he shook him off and threw a better pitch. The other is that was Archer’s lone blemish in his 6+ innings pitched. He finished with six strikeouts while allowing six hits and two walks.
Archer got 10 whiffs and four strikeouts on his slider, which was set-up by his fastball. He threw it in all four quadrants of the zone Thursday.
“Opened up some lanes,” said Clint Hurdle about Archer’s fastball. “Slider is playing much better because they are having to gear up, get ready to hit the fastball.”
He got all the offense he needed in the second inning when Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco went-back-to-back, both to right field.
The Pirates would tack on three more runs in the eighth courtesy of Josh Bell, who drove home two on a double and later scored on an Elias Diaz two-bagger. Bell finished 3-4 with three doubles on the day, extending his MLB leading total to 25.
Archer left in the seventh with two runners on base, but Francisco Liriano cleaned up the frame by getting a double-play on the first pitch and then getting Ronald Acuna Jr. to pop out to right.
Felipe Vazquez was brought in to finish the eighth before getting out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth. He earned his 15th save of the season.
Chris Archer improves to 3-5 on the year after earning a W in his second consecutive start. Mike Foltynewicz falls to 1-5 after allowing three runs in six frames.
The Pirates will now embark on a 10 game road trip with a 30-31 record. After a tough start to the homestand with the series loss to the Brewers, taking two out of three against the Braves was important.
“I think it did something for this clubhouse,” Archer said. “Looking forward to rolling in Milwaukee with that swagger that we have.”
Game one of that road trip will be Rookie Davis (0-0, 5.87) vs. Brandon Woodruff (7-1, 3.82). First pitch will be at 8:10 p.m..
1. This is the 13th consecutive game where the Pirates recorded at least eight hits. That’s their longest streak since Aug. 15-28, 2007 (14 games).
2. Thursday was Bell’s first career three double game.
3. Bryan Reynolds went 2-4 Thursday. His 14 game hitting streak is the longest by a Pirate rookie since 2010 (Neil Walker 18, Jose Tabata 14).