Big weekend for Buccos
The St. Louis Cardinals visited Pittsburgh over this past weekend which made me just a little nervous. The Pirates are struggling against the Cardinals yet again this season and the Buccos desperately need to string some wins together to get out of the basement in the NL Central. After dropping the first game of the weekend series Friday night it appeared as if the Cardinals would once again own the Pirates on their home turf. But then history was made on Saturday.
Saturday night was historic because it was the first time in 300 years of baseball a 4-5-4 triple play occurred. Molina was at bat for the Cardinals in the top of the second inning when he hit a line drive toward centerfield but hometown hero Neil Walker snagged the ball out of the air and made the double play throw to third. The runner on second was on his way to third but he had a problem. Jung Ho Kang realized he could throw back to Walker for the third and final out of the inning. Kang only realized he could make the third out because all of the Pirates on the field and in the dugout were yelling at him to throw back to second base. Bad base running was partly to blame for the Cardinals going down so quickly. The Pirates needed something special to happen to help lift them past the Cardinals that night. Momentum from the epic triple play helped the Pirates get a 3 run lead in the 2nd inning. A triple play and Jordy Mercer held the Pirates together Saturday night.
With the bases loaded in the 6th inning Jordy Mercer stepped up to the plate in hopes of rallying his team down 5-4. Mercer has struggled this season with a .186 average but found some luck by hitting the first pitch he saw. Mercer's shot bounced off the center field wall to bring in Sean Rodriguez and Pedro Alvarez to put the Pirates up 6-5. The Pirates and Jordy Mercer found some momentum to win beat the Cardinals 7-5. The Pirates had to face the Cardinals again on Sunday afternoon.
It wound up being a happy mother's day for the Pirates as they beat the Cardinals 4-3. The hero of Sunday's game was none other than Jung Ho Kang. Kang helped make the triple play happen the night before and stepped up to the plate again. Kang played for two Korean Baseball organizations from 2006-2014 until the Pirates signed him this January for a four-year $11 million contract with an option for a fifth year. Kang hit his second home run of the season in the first inning and then hit the game winning single in the seventh to put the nail in the Cardinals coffin. "Over his past 12 games, Kang is batting .429 with two homers and nine RBIs. After getting just one hit in his first 14 at-bats this season, Kang's average is up to .333," (http://triblive.com/sports/-topstories/8324426-74/pirates-cardinals-field#ixzz3Zrs4Ere3). The Pirates managed to win the weekend series even though they are one of the few teams in the NL Central who consistently struggle against the Cardinals. The finished the weekend only seven games behind first place in the division with plenty of time to make up ground.
The Pirates go on to play the Phillies for the next 4 games in Philadelphia then play the Cubs at Wrigley next weekend. The Cubs have a .500 record right now and the Phillies are last in the NL East at .344. If the Pirates can keep momentum on their side from the weekend then they will be able to pick up wins and traction in the division.