Gerrit Cole was his usual self and the rest of the team did just enough to secure a sloppy win over baseball's worst team. Cole went six innings, allowing one earned and one unearned run, the latter being set up by a Chris Stewart throwing error on a Ben Revere steal. Cole gave up five hits, walked nobody and fanned seven. He seemed to be settling into a groove, retiring nine straight after giving up a leadoff double in the 4th. Some scuffling early in the game, though, left his pitch count at 93 after six. Possibly influenced by Cole's career-high 116 pitches in his last start, Clint Hurdle removed him for a pinch hitter.
The Pirates' offense, meanwhile, didn't exactly clobber the eminently clobberable Sean O'Sullivan. They did, however, manage four early runs against a phloundering team. They got two in the first thanks to two fielders choices, on which the Phillies managed not to get anybody out on weak grounders. The second run came on a two-out single by Josh Harrison. In the second, the Pirates got another pair on two-out infield hits by Starling Marte (who had three hits in the game) and Andrew McCutchen, both taking advantage of what little is left of Chase Utley's range.
And that was it for the offense, which otherwise reverted to April form. The hitters swung at numerous pitches outside the strike zone, which is exactly what pitchers with below-average stuff, like O'Sullivan and Kevin Correia, count on. They also tried to pull pitches away, rolling over them for weak, pull-side groundouts. And, to top it all off, they had two runners thrown out with Andrew McCutchen batting, or waiting to bat. Third-base coach Rick Sofield got another runner, Gregory Polanco, thrown out at the plate and Starling Marte was called out on a review of a steal attempt.
Facing by far MLB's worst offense, the pitching staff made it hold up, but not easily. Arquimedes Caminero got through a scoreless 7th with the help of a diving stop by Pedro Alvarez. Tony Watson, however, nearly imploded in the 8th. The first four hitters reached base, leaving the score 4-3 with the bases loaded and nobody out. Watson recovered to get two force outs at the plate and another ground out to hold the lead. The much-maligned Mark Melancon followed with a perfect 9th, fanning the very annoying Revere to convert his 18th consecutive save opportunity.
The result made Cole the majors' first 10-game winner. He also will probably remain the major-league leader in ERA. Assuming the memo gets circulated widely enough at ESPN, we should start hearing Cole's name mentioned with the game's iconic pitching aces and also as a potential starter for the All-Star Game. Because he's that good.