The Pirates (44-33) kicked off the month of July in style with a 9-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park. Neil Walker highlighted the box score with 4 hits, 2 of them home runs, and 3 RBI’s. All but one of the runs scored came in the 3rd and 8th innings. 5 men crossed the plate in the 3rd, including Walker’s first homer of the night; a 2-run shot. Walker homered again in the 8th, then Marte and Pedro hit back to back solo bombs. The team altogether tallied 21 hits, the most in a game for the Pirates since May 13, 2004. The offensive output overshadowed another great pitching performance from A.J. Burnett. The 38 year-old right-hander improved to 7-3 on the year, throwing 7 innings, with 7 hits, 2 runs (both earned), and 4 strikeouts.
Neil Walker loves hitting in Detroit. In his career, the Pittsburgh native is a lifetime .455 hitter at Comerica Park (20 for 44), including two game winning hits in extra innings. He’s 16 for 22, a .727 average, since 2013. Walker had been slumping as of late, but these two games in Detroit may be the kick-start he needs to get his bat going. The Pirates, still sitting 8 games behind the division leading Cardinals going into tonight’s set of games, are going to need production from the under-achieving Walker to make a run at the division, or at least the wildcard spot the Pirates have become so accustomed to the past two years.
A.J. Burnett continues to dominate the opposition. He turned in another sensational performance tonight, doing things he’s done all year. He’s locating his spots, and when he gets into trouble, he minimizes the damage. That’s what good pitchers do. He has definitely made a case to be an all-star this year. He’s now 7-3 with a 2.05 ERA. Only Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer have better ERA’s in the National League. He said before the season that this was going to be his last year. If it still is, he’s going out in style.
Nights like this give Buccos fans peace of mind that the offense just might be okay after all, but the offense has to be more consistent. Players like Walker and Alvarez need to pick it up, and Huntington has decisions to make about right field with the non-waiver trade deadline looming. That, however, is an article for another time. Bucco fans, enjoy tonight’s win. It was an explosive one.
Follow me on Twitter @chalicke for continued Pirates coverage.