The Pirates scored five runs in the seventh inning to sweep the floundering Marlins with a 5-2 win Wednesday.
Gerrit Cole pitched well, striking out seven and walking none in seven innings, but he was behind almost his entire start. In the second, Justin Bour hit a slider way over the Clemente Wall and into a group of schoolchildren to put the Marlins up 1-0. Later that inning, Starling Marte spared Cole another solo homer by leaping and pulling back a Christian Yelich shot to the wall in left.
After that, inning after inning went by with the Pirates failing to cash in any of their many runners on base. Then in the seventh, Yelich finally did get his homer, blasting a 96-MPH fastball to right to put the Marlins up 2-0.
In the bottom of the inning, though, the Pirates came back with a series of two-out hits. Chris Stewart and Jose Tabata singled, and Josh Harrison hit a line-drive single to bring home a run. Then Pedro Alvarez hit an opposite-field, ground-ball single to beat the Marlins' shift and tie the game. Andrew McCutchen walked the bases full, and then Starling Marte, of all people, got a bases-loaded walk to put the Pirates up 3-2. Jung-Ho Kang then delivered a single to right-center to score two more runs. In case you're counting, that's seven straight batters reaching base. At this point, Kang looks like one of the offseason's best free-agent contracts. The Bucs have three more years left after this one and an option for a fourth, and via FanGraphs, he had already produced $10.5 million of value heading into today's game.
The Bucs' bullpen took over after that, with Tony Watson getting two whiffs in the eighth and Mark Melancon inducing three ground-ball outs in the ninth. Melancon's stuff has been better this month, and while I still don't think the Pirates should lean on a guy to pitch high-leverage innings when he's throwing 90-91 MPH and never striking anyone out, his ability to induce ground balls is still a terrific weapon.
Anyway, the Pirates have now won six in a row, beating up on a decent Mets team and taking advantage of a Marlins club that's in disarray. Another team that's been a disappointment so far, the Padres, awaits as the Bucs head to San Diego. Here's hoping the Bucs can keep it going. It feels ridiculous right now to think they can't.