Pittsburgh Pirates Hero and Goat – A San Francisco Sweep

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The Pittsburgh Pirates looked to continue their successful road trip when they took on the San Francisco Giants.

Normally there is where you would be seeing my series recap, but to be perfectly honest, it’s gotten very stale writing them. I feel like it’s redundant to recap a series that just ended without adding something new to it. With that said, I’ve decided to introduce a new format and a new feature piece. Today begins the Hero and Goat Series.

Each series, I will look at which player had the biggest positive in the series and which player had the worst impact. I truly believe this will be a better way to look back at the previous series. Rather than simply giving you a game-by-game recap of something you just watched. That’s enough of an introduction, let’s jump right into the Pirates sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

Before the west coast road trip began, I went on record saying this could be the defining trip of the season. It could very well determine if the Pirates are true contenders or not. I think a 5-1 record against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants proves the Pirates are legit.

Sweeping the Giants was huge. The Pirates had a great opportunity ahead of them in game three of the series and despite falling behind 4-0, they battled back and won the game to sweep the series.

Hero of the Series:

The Pirates played three fairly solid ballgames and there were plenty of candidates for the Hero of the Series, but my pick is probably fairly obvious. It’s Andrew McCutchen.

Andrew McCutchen was benched for all three games against the Atlanta Braves and since the time he’s looked like the former NL MVP. The Giants series, in particular, was a return to glory for McCutchen. He went 6/12 (.500) in the series with one home run, one triple, four RBIs, two runs scored one walk, and threw in a game-saving catch for good measure.

McCutchen finally seems to be returning to his All-Star form. That could be huge for the Pirates during the final stretch run of the season. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and October, but using the old fashioned eye-test, McCutchen simply looks better. He seems to finally be driving the ball to the right-center field again. Not to mention, his defense looks much improved compared to early in the season. This may still go down as a lost season for the MVP, but if he can turn it around when it matters most, I don’t think you’ll be hearing any complaints from the fans or the media.

Goat of the Series:

The Pirates obviously won all three games, so a Goat of the Series should be difficult, right? To me, this one is almost as obvious as the Hero. My Goat of the Series is Tony Watson.

Tony Watson had two saves in the three games, which should mean he did his job. However, in the series, he allowed two runs on five hits with two walks. Every appearance for Watson turned into a bit of an adventure. The Giants pretty much had a chance to steal all three baseball games. Not the ideal work from a closer.

Tony Watson will be fine. He’s one of the best relief pitchers in baseball for a reason. He was able to pitch the eighth inning, so he can certainly handle the ninth inning. He’s certainly in a bit of a funk since taking over the closer’s job from the departed Mark Melancon, but I doubt it will last long. The biggest problem in the Giants’ series for Watson was in two of the three games he allowed a lead-off walk. Which we all know is almost always a recipe for disaster. Watson needs to get his control in order, otherwise, he will continue to run into trouble.

Final Thoughts:

The Pirates needed a good road trip to keep up with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in the wild-card race and they genuinely got more than that. The Pirates went 5-1 and despite their up and down season are currently just one game out of the playoff spot. Strap in, boys and girls, it looks like we may have all the makings of a dramatic finish on our hands.

Following a well-deserved off-day, the Pirates will return home to take on the Miami Marlins in what should be a captivating and very pivotal series. The Marlins are without Giancarlo Stanton for the rest of the season, so this provides the Pirates with a very good chance to at least tie the Marlins in the Wildcard standings. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pirates come out against the Marlins in this series.

The Marlins are currently in a bit of a funk as they have lost five of their past eight games. So potentially this could be a case of the Pirates catching the Marlins at the best possible time. The games still have to be played, of course, and the Pirates cannot overlook any opponent. This is a big series against a playoff contender and the Pirates must treat it that way. The series begins Friday at 7:05 with Gerrit Cole taking on Tom Koehler.

Series Result: Pirates win 3-0

2016 win/loss record: 62-56

2016 series record: 20-15-3

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