Friday, May 20, 2016

Cole's Grit, Bucco Gloves Carry The Day In 2-1 Win Over Rox

Gerrit Cole had the luck of the Buccos with him in the first. Two singles left Rox on the corners with an out, but that was cleaned up on a Carlos Gonzalez liner to third; Freeser squeezed the shot and caught the runner at first before he could dive back. Eddie Butler dodged a bullet, though he did give up a run. JJ opened with a knock and was doubled to third by Cutch. Gregory's sharp grounder to second brought Jaso home, but Starling and Fran left Cutch at third, partly due to some hesitation at third by Andrew.

In the second, a leadoff Colorado knock was erased an out later by another liner DP, this one to JJ at first. The Bucs hit the ball on the nose too, but couldn't find grass. With two gone in the third, Charlie Blackmon dropped a pop between three Bucs, but no prob - Fran nailed him stealing. Cole Train and JJ opened with singles; Cutch's deep fly to center tagged Cole to third. The Pirates left him there; hopefully stranding guys at the hot corner won't come back to bite them against a team that can put up some points.

Gerrit labored today, but kept the Rox at bay (photo Justin Berl/Getty)

Nolan Arenado slapped a curve off his shoetops into left with one gone in the fourth, followed by a walk to Cargo. Mark Reynolds rolled a tight fastball into right to jam the sacks. After a force at home, nicely played by JJ, Cole fell behind DJ LeMahieu 3-1, but came back to get him on a grounder; the Rox haven't had much success with guys on third, either. Butler tossed a 1-2-3 frame. Gerrit answered with a clean fifth.  Jordy opened by drilling a triple to RC. Gerrit was robbed of an RBI by a diving stop by SS Trevor Story; JJ bounced out too. Cutch fouled out, and another runner bit the dust 90' away.

With an out in the sixth, Arenado turned on fastball and dropped it well into the LF seats to tie the game.  Reynolds singled with two away before the frame ended. Starling singled with an out, and a wayward pickoff toss moved him to second. The Rox tried to make up, almost picking Marte off second; it was challenged to no avail. With two gone, Butler went after Freeser with high heat and went to the well once too often. David's knock into center gave the Bucs the lead again.

Dustin Garneau singled with an out in the seventh and a grounder, sweetly turned into an out by Freeser, moved him up a station. Blackmon sent a 97 MPH heater to left, Garneau charged home, and Starling cut him down with a laser shot. Cole Train left after seven innings, giving up a run on 10 hits and a walk after 109 pitches. Gonzalez Germen took the hill for Colorado and retired the Bucs in order.

Tony Watson came on in the eighth and lost Arenado after an eight pitch duel. No sweat; he turned a comebacker into a 1-6-3 DP. Ooops, make that a force. The Rockies were out of challenges, but the umps called for a review and overturned the call (he was safe). Another grounder ended the inning for real. Miguel Castro took the mound. Starling banged a two-bagger with two gone, but Fran fished for a pair of sliders and fanned.

Fran applies the game-saving tag after Starling's bullet home (image via Pittsburgh Pirates)

Mark Melancon took the ball in the ninth and with an out, LaMahieu singled sharply off 1B S-Rod's glove. After a pop up, Daniel Descalso slapped a pitch away into left. The Shark left a cutter over the plate to Blackmon, but it had enough run to end up a soft liner to left that Starling raced in to glove and close the book on the Rox.

Cole proved his ace stuff today. His command was off, and he was pretty much limited to his fastball, but still pitched seven strong frames. The defense was key, but that's what this year's Pirates edition is built around. Young Mr. Butler tossed a nice game, too, filling up the strike zone as advertised and keeping the ball down. Both sides had chances to break it open; the Bucs in particular were just 1-for-12 with RISP and couldn't lift a fly when one was called for. It wasn't pretty, but it was another trademark grind-it-out victory.

  • The Pirates had eight hits from six different players; Jaso and Starling each had a pair. The Rox had 12 hits, with Blackmon, Reynolds and Arenado chipping in three knocks apiece.
  • With his first inning double, Cutch became the all time hits leader at PNC Park with 613 knocks, passing Jack Wilson.
  • This is the first outing of Gerrit Cole's 81-start career that he hasn't punched anyone out. He had a game with just one K back in 2013 as a rookie. His mound foe, Eddie Butler, only had one whiff (and that on a foul tip) through six innings.
  • The Pirates had two throw-outs at home, a caught stealing, and two DPs. The gloves came up big tonight. The Rox flashed some leather, too, but the winning run was set up by the game's only error, a bad pickoff toss.
  • Low score, quick game - it took just 2:34 from start to finish.

No comments: