When Steven Brault last took the mound he threw an absolute gem; a complete game, during which he only allowed only one run on two hits, while striking out eight St. Louis batters. At the time this was only the Pirates third quality start of the season. Since then members of the rotation have added three more, with Chad Kuhl falling just shy of a fourth. In spite of this, Pittsburgh has yet to make another mark in the win column; coming into tonight riding a five game losing streak.
Luckily for the Pirates, Brault had an encore in his back pocket in the form of a second quality start in a row. This one did not go as smoothly at times as he hit back-to-back batters to start the fourth inning and walked three others over seven innings at work, but he did not allow a run, gave up two hits and struck out six. As Gary wrote late last week; Maybe it’s time for the Pirates to open themselves to the idea that maybe Steven is in fact deserving of a spot. Over the past two seasons as a starter, Brault has posted a 4.01 ERA with a 1.315 WHIP. These are not ace numbers by any stretch of the imagination, however they are consistent and reliable, which should at least get him a fair shake at the start of next season.
When Brault was lifted from the game Pittsburgh’s offense had done just enough to set him up for the win thanks a pair of well timed doubles from Erik Gonzalez. The bullpen on the other let this small cushion slip away as Sam Howard gave up a two run home run to Anthony Rizzo.
Enter an unlikely hero in the form of catcher, Jacob Stallings. With the game in danger of going to extra innings, Stallings ended it in walk off fashion on his third his third home run of the year, a solo shot to left field.
The Pirates did everything they could to let this one slip away and waste another quality start, but for one night they faced a team that is almost as bad at hitting as them. Tomorrow they look to earn at least a series split as they take on the Cubs at 7:05 PM EST. Trevor Williams (1-8, 6.70) is scheduled to take the hill against Liam Hendricks (6-4, 2.93 ERA).
News and Notes:
- Gregory Polanco scored 2 of the 3 runs in the game and didn’t strike out once. I am as surprised as anyone!
- The Pirates struck out 10 times tonight, 4 times looking. Bryan Reynolds accounted for 3 of the total Ks. Man he is just off this year.
- In spite of being in 1st Place the Cubs Batting Average as a team is only .010 points higher than the Pirates. .214 to .224.