Cole roughed up early, provides some length
During his pregame press conference, Clint Hurdle mentioned he was looking for some length from his starters. After a 30-pitch, three-run first inning, it appeared unlikely that he'd get it tonight from Gerrit Cole. However, in an outing in which he never looked fully in command, Cole did manage to settle in, limit damage and give the Pirates a decent 6.2 innings pitched.
"He didn't get out of the gates very clean," Hurdle said. "The fastball command, the slider weren't as sharp as we've seen from him. That's a good offensive club. We made some mistakes over the plate, they were able to put the barrel on some balls early."
Cole allowed eight hits and four runs over 6.2 inning pitched. He struck out five and walked one.
"If you don't come out locating the ball early they're going to punish you," Cole said. "I almost got through a solid seven so that was encouraging. We played good defense."
Cole threw 110 pitches on the night and 80 over his last six innings of work.
A bright spot
We mentioned in the pregame that Pirates coaches were placing renewed emphasis on holding runners and controlling the running game. Some of those efforts may be already paying dividends, as Cole and Francisco Cervelli teamed up to catch two Diamondbacks stealing.
"Absolutely bright spot of the game," Hurdle said. "You get more out of what you put your focus on, we were able to get it done tonight. Cervelli's got plenty enough arm to throw guys out when we give him a shot, as evident by the way we were able to take care of a couple baserunners this evening."
In the fifth, Pedro Alvarez lobbed a solo home run into the first row above the Clemente Wall to put the Pirates on board. It was the 1,000 home run hit in PNC Park
"He had a very good road trip. He's getting balls that are up and putting good swings on them," Hurdle said. "Very quietly, he's picked up his offense in a very consistent fashion."
Over the last eight games, Alvarez is hitting .520/.520/1.080 in 25 plate appearances.
The Pirates mounted scoring threats in the sixth, seventh and eighth but came up empty.
"That's usually what separates winning from losing, is hitting with men on base and men in scoring position," Hurdle said. "We weren't able to create really any opportunities until [Jeremy] Hellickson left the one inning that he ended up leaving the game with a couple men on."
The Pirates cobbled together their most serious opportunity to hop back into the game in the seventh. But with the bases loaded and one out, Gregory Polanco struck out and Starling Marte popped out down the right field line to end the threat.
"We had a number of different guys have those opportunities to come up and get the big hit," Hurdle said. "From being where we were to actually have the tying run on a couple times and the go-ahead run come to the plate, we kept pushing back. We weren't able to crack it open."
The Pirates went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.