The Pirates (51-44) have moved 7 games above .500 and 1.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals who lost tonight.
The team looks for the sweep of the Reds tomorrow afternoon, before a big weekend series with the Cards.
As the Pirates are inching closer to the 100 game mark, the team is showing signs that they are for real.
In his post-game media session, manager Clint Hurdle was extremely proud of his team posting back-to-back shutouts against a dangerous offensive team in Cincinnati.
“We’re responding well, we’re playing well, ” Hurdle said. We’re pitching outstanding. To be able to open the series with back-to-back shutouts against that team over there, that speaks volumes of what our pitchers have been able to do in game planning, throwing goods strikes and missing barrel because they can hurt you in that lineup from top to bottom.”
“They’ve been resilient all year. They feed off one another, ” Hurdle said his ballclub.
Hurdle also sang the praises of James McDonald tonight, who threw 6 1/3 shutout innings.
“I thought James took a number of steps forward tonight. Pitch efficiency was very, very good, ” Hurdle said.
“One of better games he’s pitched all year. Fastball command was improved, good breaking ball to go with it, threw some nice change ups as well, ” Hurdle said. “Very proud of his effort tonight, very impressed with steps of what he’s doing on the side in between starts…. so real nice night for James.
Hurdle seems to be very pleased with McDonald putting in the extra work on his off-days.
“He’s working on couple mechanic things. Focus and just the mindset. Seems to be taking it to the hitters more, ” Hurdle said on some changes from McDonald of late.
Pedro Alvarez extended his hitting streak to five games tonight, going 4-for-4 with an RBI for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Alvarez is hitting .526 (10-for-19) with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s in his last five games.
The Pirates continue to insist that there is no timetable for a callup but word this morning was that the team has been hopeful to bring Alvarez up for the start of the Cubs series on August 1st.
There has been some doubts they have any intentions to bring him back up against the Cards, Braves or Phillies.