Volquez looks sharp, Alvarez goes deep in home victory over Mets
Pitching is not a static activity, especially for Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez.
About two weeks ago, Volquez was bombed in one of the worst starts of his career. He has rebounded with two solid outings, including six scoreless innings Sunday in a 5-2 victory against the New York Mets.
“I've been watching video and making adjustments,” Volquez said.
Mechanical? Mental? Approach-wise?
“Everything, everything,” Volquez said. “Ray (Searage, pitching coach) is always talking about the process, and making adjustments is part of that. After a bad outing, you move forward and try to pitch better games. We've been able to do that.”
That means finding a way to overcome a ragged start. It also means counter-punching against batters from one inning to the next in a game.
“It's a lot of up and down,” Volquez said. “You've got to be open to listening to a lot of different ideas that can make you better. I'm a really open guy.”
Volquez didn't want to divulge exactly what he has changed mechanically — no need to tip off the Philadelphia Phillies, who he'll face Saturday — but he said it's nothing major.
“Ray's a pretty smart guy,” Volquez said. “He's always watching the little things. He's all over me.”
Volquez (6-6) won for the third time in his past four decisions. He gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out seven.
“I've got a lot of confidence right now,” Volquez said. “I'm happy with the way I'm throwing the ball.”
The Pirates built a 3-0 lead in the first inning against right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-6).
“I don't think he had his ‘A' game today,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Colon, who blanked the Pirates for seven innings May 28 at Citi Field. “The biggest difference was, when balls were left out over the plate today, we put good swings on them.”
With one out, Starling Marte singled and went to third on Neil Walker's double. Ike Davis slapped a 1-2 fastball the other way into left field for a two-run single.
Davis was erased at second base on Josh Harrison's fielder's choice grounder. Harrison scored all the way from first base when Alvarez roped a double into the right-field corner.
The Mets had a chance to break through against Volquez in the fourth. Lucas Duda led off with a double and was at third base with one out. Juan Lagares struck out.
Travis d'Arnaud was intentionally walked so Volquez could face Colon. The 41-year-old Colon struck out, but he got his money's worth. Colon's first hack spun him around and knocked his helmet to the ground.
“He had a bad swing,” Volquez said with a laugh. “I kept the ball down and threw some breaking balls. With a guy on third, I didn't want to see him bloop a single.”
Colon retired seven in a row after Alvarez's double. Harrison broke that string in the fourth with a leadoff double to right-center. Alvarez followed with a two-run blast over the Clemente Wall, the 99th home run of his career.
“I just wanted to get J-Hay over,” Alvarez said. “I got good contact on it, put a pretty good swing on it.”
Alvarez's first four home runs this season all were solo shots, but eight of his past nine have come with runners on base.
It was a good series for Alvarez, who went 6 for 12 plus a walk and reached base nine times against the Mets.
He has reached base in nine of his past 10 starts and is batting .349 (15 for 43) over his past 24 games at PNC Park.
“I think we're doing the right things to get to where we want to go,” Alvarez said. “I've been putting some pretty good at-bats together. It's a matter of keeping it going.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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