Pirates hit 3 HRs in rout of Red Sox
Excitement over the Pirates' 81st victory of the season? That is so 2013.
Last year, there was a lot of buzz when the Pirates got win No. 81 and secured their first nonlosing season since 1992. On Wednesday, there was barely a ripple when the Pirates reached that mark again by drubbing the Boston Red Sox, 9-1.
“That's a good thing because we wanted to get to a point where we could move past that,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You want to get to a point where you're looking to win (bigger) things. It's what every organization wants to develop.”
When the players and coaches discussed their goals for the season during spring training, no one mentioned 81 wins.
“It was about find a way to get into the playoffs, win the division,” second baseman Neil Walker said. “We're in a good spot right now. We're playing the best we've played all season, and you hope it continues.”
The Pirates are 2 1⁄2 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Pirates hold the second wild-card spot, 2 1⁄2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers — who will visit PNC Park for three games this weekend.
If you would prefer a digit with a more sentimental hue, consider 21.
Wednesday was MLB's annual Roberto Clemente Day, which honors the Hall of Famer's legacy of community service. The Pirates blasted two homers over the 21-foot-high Clemente Wall in right field.
“That's the beauty of the game,” Hurdle said.
Gregory Polanco, who is the 162nd player to start a game in right field for the Pirates since Clemente's death in 1972, ripped a solo shot in the first inning. In the fourth, Neil Walker also went deep — fittingly his 21st of the season.
“It didn't cross my mind until later on,” Walker said. “Clemente means so much to this organization, and we get to look at that wall every day. It's strange but special.”
The Pirates' third homer of the game was a three-run blast by Ike Davis. He put the ball out to center to cap a four-run fifth inning.
It was Davis' 11th home run of the season, his 10th since joining the Pirates. For the first time in franchise history, the Pirates have nine players who have hit 10 or more homers.
“I think it's pretty cool,” Davis said. “Especially since it's a lot of guys who are platoon players or who started as bench players and got jobs, or who've been up and down. To do that, it's pretty amazing.”
There was only one number that was a downer: 20, which is where Francisco Liriano's scoreless innings streak ended.
Liriano's run, which had been the longest active streak in the NL, was snapped in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Bryce Brentz doubled in his first big league at-bat and scored on a ground out.
Liriano (6-10) won his third consecutive start. He went six innings, gave up three hits, walked five and struck out two. Early in the game, it seemed he might be in for a long night.
“A tough night for me, location-wise,” Liriano said. “But I made a couple good pitches when I needed to.”
Mookie Betts led off the game with a single. With two outs, Liriano threw a slider in the dirt to Mike Napoli. Betts went to second on the wild pitch and got to third when catcher Russell Martin's throw sailed into center field.
Napoli walked on four pitches. Allen Craig walked on five.
That brought up Will Middlebrooks — a .186 hitter this season, but with a .464 average with the bases loaded. Scattershot with his fastball, Liriano fell behind 3-0.
Liriano stuck with his fastball and got Middlebrooks to ground out. After 30 pitches and some nervous moments, Liriano escaped.