The Pittsburgh Pirates have already made a few ‘first time since…’ this season, and they’re getting ready for another one, taking a 2-1 lead in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, with some impressive hitting from Pedro Alvarez, joining forced with Josh Harrison, who made quite a splash with his successful insertion as a pinch runner in the 8th, giving the Pirates the lead for good.
In a close game 3, it was Pedro Alvarez with his single in the 8th to give Pittsburgh the lead, Russell Martin with his sacrifice fly in the 6th and scoring single in the 8th following Alvarez that gave the Pirates a home playoff win for the first time in over two decades, aided by some strong relief pitching from Tony Watson and Jason Grilli.
Alvarez and Martin both have 4 RBIs in this series, followed by Marlon Byrd with 3, hitting one in the 1st inning to get the Cardinals chasing. Byrd and Alvarez have distinguished themselves as being the 2nd and 3rd Pirates players to have 5 RBI within his first 4 postseason games since RBI became an official stat in 1920.
The 8th inning hit from Alvarez came against unfavorable odds. It was a 95 MPH fastball coming from Kevin Siegrist; Alvarez did not have a hit against a pitch thrown 95 mph or faster by a lefty in the regular season. The previous one came on July 2012. The pitch, going to the outside corner of the plate, was also unfavorable to him. His last hit against a pitch from a lefty that was thrown to that area was on July 22, 2013. He has also gone 0-for-5 this season against Kevin Siegrist, including the postseason.
I just knew it was going to be a tough matchup. I’ve seen him a couple of times before. I haven’t had much success. He’s a pitcher with good stuff — great stuff. He threw me a couple of fastballs out over the plate. We’re continuing to surprise a lot of people, I believe. We’re continuing to show people that we’re not done, that we’re not just happy to be in the postseason. We’re fighting to win a World Series.
From losing 7-1 in the opening game the Pirates are now favorites to make it to the NLCS. Carlos Beltran had another home run, his second of the series, momentarily tying things up in the 8th. It is his 16th career home run in the postseason, he 2nd-most in NL history behind Albert Pujols. It didn’t matter with the Cardinals batters combining for only 7-for-33, as David Freese and Matt Holiday finished with 0-for-4.
Andrew McCutchen, on the other end, has been on fire in this series, even if he is slightly standing in Alvarez’ shadow. He scored two runs, getting on base four times during the game, and is batting .538 (7-for-13) and has an on-base percentage of .684 in the playoffs. His five walks rank first in the league this postseason.