The Pirates convincingly defeated the Phillies 8-2 today, but the evening's festive mood was significantly dampened when Gerrit Cole did not come out to pitch the sixth inning after having thrown five shutout innings on only 80 pitches. It was announced shorty after the inning ended that Cole had been removed because of right lat soreness. (More on Cole's status here.)
The Pirates ambushed the Phillies early and never looked back.
In the first, Starling Marte led off with a one-out single. He then stole the first of three bases the Bucs would confiscate in the inning. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single that bounced off the glove of diving Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Inexplicably, Marte was thrown out trying to score and McCutchen failed to advance to second on the throw. After McCutchen stole second, Neil Walker drew a two-out walk. Russell Martin continued his surprisingly consistent year at the plate with a single that drove home McCutchen. Josh Harrison followed with a single scoring Walker. After Gaby Sanchez walked to load the bases Jordy Mercer lined a single into centerfield, scoring Martin and Harrison. When the offensive fireworks subsided the Bucs held a 4-0 lead.
The Pirates tacked on another run in the fourth, as Gregory Polanco scored from first following a McCutchen double into the left field corner.
Things got a little tense in the sixth when Stolmy Pimentel, pitching in relief of Cole, gave up three walks, a single, and one run. He was quickly replaced by Jared Hughes, who promptly induced a ground ball that Harrison made a fine play on moving to his left, which resulted in a double play. When the inning ended the Bucs held on to a 5-2 lead.
"Ball to my left, I got it on a pretty good hop," Harrison said of his big defensive play in the sixth. "Hughes made a perfect pitch and I just got it and threw it to Walker as quick as I could. When I fielded it I knew we had a shot at the double play."
The Pirates added two more runs when Jordy Mercer doubled home Sanchez and Martin. Mercer ended the day 2-for-4, with four RBIs. He has been on a bit of offensive tear lately, with seven hits in his last 12 at bats, and he has reached base in 10 of his last 15 plate appearances.
McCutchen also had a huge day at the plate, coming about eight feet short of hitting for the cycle. On day he went, 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs.
"Mercer had big swings today to drive in four runs," Hurdle said. "But everyone just kept getting looks and doing what we needed them to do."
With the win the Pirates improve their record to 45-41. Edinson Volquez takes on Dave Buchanan tomorrow evening.