In a lot of ways, I enjoy wins like this one nearly as much as I enjoy blowouts like yesterday. Don’t get me wrong; the two exceptional performances from McCutchen and Jones were great yesterday, but 10 runs can obscure a lot of things that maybe didn’t go quite as well. To win this game today, the Pirates needed Paul Maholm’s good start where he scattered eight hits in six innings by not walking anyone. They needed Ryan Church’s great throw to the plate to nail Aramis Ramirez on a play he should’ve scored easily on in the third. They needed great innings from DJ Carrasco and Joel Hanrahan. They needed Jeff Clement’s opposite field bomb off of Carlos Marmol in the top of the ninth. They needed Octavio Dotel to bear down and strike out Ryan Theriot and Marlon Byrd after Kosuke Fukudome tripled in Starlin Castro with one out in the bottom of the ninth. They needed to do a lot of little things right to win today, and they did them all.
The other thing I want to note from this game was an exceptional play in center field by Andrew McCutchen. In the fifth inning this afternoon Derek Lee lasered a ball that seemed destined for the ivy in left-center and the only real question about it was whether it’d go for two or three bases. McCutchen closed down the space between him and the ball quickly and made a little slide to cut it off before the warning track, then popped up, wheeled around, and very nearly caught Lee off-guard at second as he pulled up with what he thought was an easy double. It would’ve probably been a double either way and so it doesn’t show up in the box score, but it was an amazing play to get to the ball before it got to the wall and to almost throw Lee out on that play was practically incomprehensible. It’s like you can watch the guy get better every single day right before your eyes. Unreal.