Pirates dominate Mariners with strong pitching, hitting
SEATTLE -- Even if Jeff Locke keeps up his torrid pace for the next couple of weeks, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle doesn't expect the young left-hander to be chosen for the All-Star Game.
Yes, Locke picked up his team-leading seventh win Tuesday when the Pirates beat up the Seattle Mariners, 9-4. Yes, Locke has not lost since his first start of the season. And, yes, Locke's 2.06 ERA ties him with Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw for third best in the National League.
Yet, as Hurdle pointed out, Locke still is known as Jeff Who? to many baseball fans and even some folks in the industry.
“I think his name will get brought up, but I think he's really on the outside looking in,” Hurdle said before the game. “We can talk numbers all we want, and numbers make sense. But the reality of it is, he's a very young pitcher who not many people know about, other than the people he's pitched against.”
The pregame blog put together by the Mariners' public relations staff called Locke “probably the best pitcher you've never heard of this season” and asked readers to “raise your hand if you've seen him pitch.”
Locke (7-1) worked seven innings for the third start in a row. He gave up two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out four. Hurdle said Locke had his “lightest stuff” of any start this year but battled to produce his typical, solid line.
“I guess that's got to make you feel good,” Locke said. “It felt like it had been a while since I was out there; maybe the off day (Monday) had something to do with that. But I felt better as the game went along. My breaking ball got a little tighter, and I started to have better command.”
The Pirates have won a season-best five in a row and improved to 17 games over .500. It's the first time they've won five straight on a single road trip since 2000.
The Pirates built a six-run lead and knocked Mariners lefty Joe Saunders (5-8) out of the game after just 1 2⁄3 innings. It was Saunders' earliest exit in four years and the quickest the Pirates have knocked out an opposing starter this season.
Starling Marte opened the game with a triple and scored on Jordy Mercer's ground out.
Russell Martin began the second with a homer to center field. With one out, Tony Sanchez singled and Neil Walker drew a four-pitch walk. Brandon Inge smacked a three-run homer to left.
It was Inge's first home run in 128 at-bats since Aug. 1, 2012, when he was playing for the Oakland A's.
Marte blasted Saunders' next pitch over the wall in left-center to make it 6-0.
“It's a different feel when you go out there knowing you have a little padding,” Locke said. “But I had to keep competing. I couldn't let off the pedal.”
In the eighth, Marte went deep again off righty Carter Capps. It was Marte's first multi-homer game. Both homers came on the first pitch of the at-bat.
Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homer in the ninth. Over the past three games, he's gone 6 for 13 with two homers and three RBI.
Although the Pirates hit five home runs in the game, Pedro Alvarez didn't leave the yard — snapping his homer streak at four games.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Elites, media & character
- Burnett’s stellar start paves way for Pirates’ victory over Diamondbacks
- Pirates’ Cole reinforces status as emerging ace
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Pitt AD Barnes has enjoyed varied career in college sports
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Employees of Mercer County-based manufacturer among missing in Nepal
- Biertempfel: Observations from a day at the ballpark
- Internal NBC News inquiry finds 11 fibs by anchorman Williams
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- It’s business, but not as usual in Pittsburgh