Kuhl, Ponce, Power Pirates to Sweep of Double Header in St. Louis

In game one the Pirates sent Chad Kuhl to the mound. The lineup featured the return of Kevin Newman and the MLB debut for Will Craig. The Cards trotted their normal lineup out and started Kwang-Hyun Kim the lefty.

The dynamic of a seven-inning game is so different, when the Pirates scored their first run on a Jacob Stallings single it was the 4th inning and felt like the seventh. Kuhl getting through 3 scoreless cut the game in half and he wasn’t done yet. He would post another scoreless inning and then Yadier Molina led off the fifth with a solo shot to tie the game at one.

Kuhl would regroup to finish five strong innings on 56 pitches, helped out by Jacob Stallings throwing out Dexter Fowler trying to swipe second. In the sixth he would run into trouble after recording two outs but rebounded to strike out Tyler O’neil. Really nice outing for Kuhl and he didn’t have his best stuff, especially his curveball. Kim efficiently had himself in the same position as Chad, his problems were caused primarily by the Cardinals defense which feels weird to even type.

That defense would crop up again in extras as Brad Miller made his second error allowing the Bucs to capitalize and score 3 runs in the top of the 8th off Gant.

Richard Rodriguez would run into trouble in the bottom half, surrendering two runs and getting help from another solid play in left by Reynolds. The Cards pinch hit for Tyler O’Niel with Max Schrock and he struck out to end the game. Whew.

On the whole well played game by the Pirates. Solid defense and they really pitched a nice game.

News & Notes:

  • During the 1st ballgame the Pirates added Anthony Alford a young center fielder who the Blue Jays put on waivers last week.
  • Yadier Molina 7-15 against Chad Kuhl hit his first homerun of the season off Chad in the fifth.
  • The Cardinals have had 13 players make their MLB debut this year.
  • Kuhl didn’t have his curveball today, just wasn’t breaking for him but he battled through, really shows why it’s so important for a starting pitcher to have 4 or 5 pitches to go to.
  • Richard Rodriguez is an example of what you can find picking up DFAs Yes, he’s had his struggles but right now he is very much so the most consistent arm they have in the pen.

Ponce Delivers a Gem in Game Two As Bucs Sweep the Series and the Double Header

For game two the Pirates sent rookie Cody Ponce to the hill with a chance to start his first game in the majors. The Cardinals countered with Johan Oviedo also a rookie but not in his debut start.

Ponce tiptoed through the minefield in the first three innings of work then came out for the fourth and put together a 6-pitch inning.

Oviedo only really got touched up in the third, walking Riddle, then a single by Murphy, Gonzalez and Frazier drove in a pair. In the fifth Oviedo walked Murphy with one out and gave up a single to Frazier setting up Reynolds for another RBI opportunity, but he struck out. A theme that continues to plague the team. They have no choice but to believe in Bell and Reynolds, even if they let them down all season long, because without them in the lineup or not producing in it, the result is the same.

The bottom of the fifth saw Ponce give up a lead off double, but he kept his composure and got two pop ups and a strikeout. Shelton showed confidence in him and sent the youngster back out for the sixth where he got the first two outs then gave up a hard hit liner to the wall by Brad Miller, Cole Tucker had it lined up and its debatable as to whether he should have had it but it was make-able, instead a triple that drove him from the game. Geoff Hartlieb was summoned and he induced a pop up to strand Miller at third and keep Ponce’s line clean.

To the seventh, and last inning I keep reminding myself and the Bucs were looking to add on to their precarious 2-0 lead.

The Pirates turned to Nik Turley in the 9th and he delivered a save and the Bucs win 2-0 in game two. Cody Ponce picks up his first MLB win.

Two well played games by the Pirates tonight. Win or lose you’d rather see them build on a foundation of fundamentally sound ball than the alternative. The sloppy play makes it feel like the whole ball club is in disarray, this makes for a much better learning environment.

2 wins, Not the biggest deal in the world, but heading to Milwaukee for a four game set, the same Brewers the Pirates just swept, could make for a nice rebound from an awful two nights in Chicago. Record up to 9-19 and are 5-2 in their last 7.

News & Notes:

  • No new trades or acquisitions came through this game by the way.
  • Erik Gonzalez looks like he’s getting back on it, making good contact and going the other way with regularity.
  • Important outing for Cody Ponce, making a case to be looked at should spots in the rotation need filled. Nice composure and you can tell he’s missing just a little polish on his pitches. Just a bit more sharpness on the breaking stuff and he’s an interesting piece. He’s also a big endorsement for trading rentals.
  • Frazier started this game and looked locked in at the plate.
  • There have been a whole lot of negatives in this season but imagine tossing 5.2 scoreless in your MLB starting debut. Cody Ponce really stepped up and saved the pen for these 13 games in 11 days stretch.
  • First time since 1966 the Pirates have swept a double header in St. Louis.
  • Also, Cody Ponce looks like Jack Black in Nacho Libre (Enjoy, you’ll never not see it.)

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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