The Pittsburgh Pirates came into St. Louis this weekend wanting to make a statement against the front-running Cardinals. Pittsburgh was coming off a terrible series against the Milwaukee Brewers where they were swept by the cellar dwellers of the National League Central. The Pirates did make some noise and were able to take two of three games from the Cardinals and now they are 5 1/2 games behind in the division.
The Pirates aren’t likely to catch the Cardinals, but it was important for the Bucs to make a statement because these two teams could easily face one another in the divisional series. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle knew how big the series was and shared his feelings with FOX Sports before the series started.
“Our focus needs to be on playing better. We got outpitched, outhit and out-defended three straight games.”
On Sunday, Gerrit Cole pitched a very good game, holding the Cardinals to just two hits in seven innings of work. He did walk three batters, but he also struck out seven. Cole got the win, his 16th of the season.
Pittsburgh had the home run bats working on Sunday as they belted three on the night. Aramis Ramirez, Sean Rodriguez, and Starling Marte all went deep to secure a 7-1 win. Cole even got into the offensive action as he drove in his first run of the season with a single in the seventh inning.
There are two big takeaways from this series for the Pirates, one good and one bad. The good is that the starters this weekend allowed just one earned run over 20 innings of work. The rotation may also get a boost in a week as A.J. Burnett may be ready to come back from inflammation in his right elbow. Burnett told NBC Sports that he is on his way back.
“I expect to be throwing soon for the Pirates, because I feel great.”
The bad news is that the bullpen allowed six runs over just six innings in the three games. The bullpen has been strong most of the season, but this just wasn’t their weekend. And it wasn’t just one guy either, as four different relievers gave up at least one earned run.
These two teams will face one another in the penultimate series of the season for both squads. The three game set will be in Pittsburgh and the Cardinals may very well have the division wrapped up at that point, but if they haven’t then things could get very interesting at PNC Park in late September.
Do you think the Pittsburgh Pirates have any chance of catching the St. Louis Cardinals for the division title?
[Image by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images]