As the MLB season rolls forward, teams are trying to keep themselves in contention for the playoff spot, mostly via the wild card although it’s much too soon. The Pittsburgh Pirates improved their chances while hurting the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-3 that included a big hitting day for Andrew McCutchen, while Yu Darvish put on an impressive pitching performance to lead the Texas Rangers in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals, avoiding a sweep in the series.
All in all it was a good visit for the Pirates against the struggling and disappointing Dodgers, winning 3-of-4 at Dodger Stadium. The impressive statistics of Zack Greinke when it comes to not giving up runs didn’t matter much as the Pirates scored four runs off of him, beginning with Pedro Alvarez hitting a 2-RBI single, followed by McCutchen hitting his fifth home run of the season. The Dodgers kept eating at that lead with Jeff Turner putting on an impressive show that included a home run and two RBIs, but Alvarez was there again in the 6th to once again put some distance between the teams with another RBI single.
McCutchen finished with two doubles, a home run and overall hitting 3-for-4 on the day, half of the Pirates’ hits. Greinke didn’t have an awful day, giving up five hits and striking out seven, but that two-run single from Alvarez in the first inning kept him chasing all day long, which he and his lineup on a 6-for-33 day simply couldn’t do, falling to 30-28, putting them 7.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
We’ve been out here a lot and not done a whole lot. So it was a big thing for us — because we flat-out believe we can play. We needed to knock this off our ‘to-do’ list, and we were able to. We knew what we were facing here, and we outpitched them for three of the four days. We played three really clean ballgames. We have confidence and we have enough edge and grit, and I think it showed up this weekend.
In Washington, after giving up 19 runs in the two losses that started the three-game series, the Rangers finally found an answer to silence the Nationals’ bats: Yu Darvish. The Japanese ace struck out 12, allowing five hits and walking two in eight excellent innings as he improved to 5-2 this season with a 2.08 ERA, with his win aided by Joakim Soria pulling off his 11 save this season with two strikeouts in a strong ninth inning.
The Nationals gave up nine hits overall as Tanner Roark kept things in check for almost seven innings until Lenoys Martin hit his third home run of the season. Roark completed the 7th inning but the Rangers had one more score to give as Donnie Murphy, in a very strong day of 3-for-4 at the plate, hit an RBI single that helped Dan Robertson get to the finish line, putting the Rangers one win above .500 again.
That team for two days just swung the bats at will, threw the ball around the ballpark, out of the ballpark. We certainly needed to try to slow them down, and Yu did that. He slowed them down. Yu was good today. He was very good. When the team needed him to be very good, he was. It was his 7th game of 12 strikeouts or more since joining the Rangers, leading MLB since 2012 in such games, one more than Chris Sale and Justin Verlander.