Sunday, May 8, 2016

Pirates Outslug the Redbirds 10-5 To Take The Series

The Pirates hit a couple of shots in the first off Michael Wacha, but they found leather. Gerrit Cole had a rougher start, set up in the main by a wild pitch strikeout and a strike zone the size of a walnut (Greg Gibson squeezed Cole out of a couple of strikes), but he left the sacks drunk with Redbirds at the cost of 33 pitches. The second was easy on Wacha, who has tossed just 16 pitches so far. Cole worked a quick frame, too.

It was a rockin' chair third for Wacha, but not so for Gerrit. Back-to-back leadoff singles were softened by a DP, but Brandon Moss' double into the RF corner made it 1-0. Pittsburgh opened the third with soft singles by JJ and Cutch, but Wacha reared back and left them in place. The Cole Train rolled smoothly.

Gerrit Cole did his mom proud today (photo: Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Bucs caught up in the fifth. Jordy walked and scored when Stew fought off an inside pitch and bounced it up the line; it died in the corner for a RBI double. JJ battled Wacha and sent the ninth pitch barely over the RCF wall and Stephen Piscotty's leap for a two run homer. Cutch tried to follow; he hit a mammoth blast that was foul by a few feet, then flew out to the track in center. Gerrit gave up a walk, but was saved from a tense frame by a nice running grab by El Coffee between routine outs.

The Pirates added on in the sixth. Starling doubled, with help from Matt Holliday in left and scored on Freeser's liner to left to make it 4-1. The Cole cruise ended with two away; Jeremy Hazelbaker homered just inside the foul pole, then Aledmys Diaz doubled on the next pitch. Gerrit bore down to get Kolten Wong on a comebacker to end his day. The Cole Train went six, giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and seven K, using 104 pitches.

Matt Bowman took the ball for the Cards, and he was lit up. Matt Joyce walked and JJ doubled on a fly ball that was better placed than hit. Cutch poked a soft liner into left for one run, then Gregory hit an opposite field liner that just cleared the wall while slicing barely inside the foul pole (it went 348'), and suddenly it was 8-2. Seth Maness answered the phone after that, and got through the frame serving up one more hit.

Kyle Lobstein came on. After an out, a ground ball single sandwiched around walks got him in hot water. A broken bat force out brought one Cardinal home, and Arquimedes Caminero was called for the righty-righty match with Yadier Molina. Didn't work; a wild pitch and a single through the right side made it 8-5. Neftali Feliz, just off a long break because of what we suspect was a mild case of dead arm, toed the rubber and fanned Hazelbaker to stop the Redbird rampage.

JJ had himself a day, too (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

The Bucs left a runner on in the eighth off Maness; Tony Watson tossed a clean frame. Jonathan Broxton answered the bell in the ninth. The Bucs rang up two more runs. Starling, who had doubled, scored on Josh's knock. He moved to second when Jordy walked and touched home on Stew's flare to right. Ryan Vogelsong got the call to close it out. He couldn't; two singles and walk later, the Shark came in with one away. This time, it's not a cherry-pick save situation, but in response to the fire V-Song started. MM doused the flames with ease, getting Yadi to bounce into a 5-3 DP.

Nice to take 2-of-3 from the Redbirds before visiting GABP, to see Cole Train in the strike zone with  a sharp hammer, and to have the bats keepin' on today. But maybe the talk should shift from the young guns on the verge to how to fix the bullpen. The Pirates had to use six pitchers to get through three innings after Gerrit left. Mark Melancon has gotten some cheap saves for sure, but who else in the pen can you trust?  The starters are a handful of weeks away from the cavalry being ready to ride to the rescue, we wonder if the same can be said for the pen. 

  • Yesterday was Starling Marte's 500th MLB game, and he celebrated with his 14th multi-hit contest of the season, tied for the NL lead. He had three hits today (two doubles) for his 15th multi-knocker, and third in a row.
  • Beside Marte, John Jaso had three hits while Cutch and Stew added a pair. Every Pirates starter scored/drove in a run and the only one without a knock was Jordy, who walked three times. 
  • The Bucco "process" at the plate sure worked today. After seeing just 16 pitches over the first two frames, the Pirates ended up making the Card hurlers toss the ball 193 times.
  • With the short bench, Frankie made the first pinch hit appearance of his career; he bounced out to short.
  • In case you've forgotten, the Pirates inked Justin Masterson a while back. On his Sunday radio show, Neil Huntington said that the lefty is in extended spring training getting stretched out.

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