For seven innings tonight, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon hypnotized the Pirates with well-placed "fastballs." Meanwhile, for the second consecutive night, an ineffective Pirates starting pitcher served as a tonic to revive the recently moribund Mets offense. A late-game burst of offense by the Pirates wasn't enough to overcome the deficit built by their starter, and the Pirates fell to 33-33, dropping a series to the Mets that began with the promise of Jameson Taillon's Tuesday-night masterpiece. The Pirates were nine games over .500 on May 27; they have gone 5-14 since.
The Mets built a 6-0 lead off Juan Nicasio, who lasted four and a third. He gave up a homer to Curtis Granderson leading off the game. In the third, Colon led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Granderson that fell in front of Andrew McCutchen, who was unable to throw the speedy Colon out at third. After a strikeout by Asdrubal Cabrera, Colon scampered home on a deep sacrifice fly by Yoenis Cespedes to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Then, disaster: a two-run homer on an off-speed pitch by Neil Walker, and on the next pitch, also off-speed and in the same dangerous location, another homer by Michael Conforto to make it 5-0--the 10th homer that Nicasio has given up to a left-handed hitter this year. He left in the fifth after doubles by Cabrera and Walker gave the Mets their sixth run. With the horse now out of the barn, three Pirates relievers managed to keep the barn door closed for the rest of the evening. A.J. Schugel followed Nicasio with two and two-thirds effective innings despite giving up a few deep fly balls. His recent outings suggest that he has earned a role in some more important innings later this summer.
Like last night, the Pirates were in danger of being shut out for the first time this year in the late innings. But Matt Joyce kept their streak alive when he homered off Colon to lead off the eighth. After Colon struck out John Jaso and Erik Kratz, Sean Rodriguez doubled and scored on Josh Harrison's single. Lefty Jerry Blevins then came in and retired Gregory Polanco on a hard liner to right. Neftali Feliz got in trouble with two singles in the bottom of the eighth, but he was then able to get a ground out to third and a shallow fly to left that kept the runners from scoring. Jared Hughes came in to get the third out and was able to do so only because Joyce made a terrific running catch in deep left that robbed Granderson of a double.
One glimmer of hope to be found in this otherwise desultory evening of Pirates baseball is in McCutchen's hitting line: three for four with a single, double, and homer. After flying out to right in the first and extending his slump to 0-for-18, he doubled off the wall in the fourth and got a broken-bat single in the seventh. Then in the ninth, with an 0-2 count against the tough Addison Reed, he crushed his 10th homer for the third Pirates run. Jung Ho Kang followed with a double off Reed, and Terry Collins brought in closer Jeurys Familia. After Familia retired David Freese on a comebacker, Joyce just missed another home run and settled for a double, moving Kang to third, and the Pirates brought the tying run to the plate. Jaso's grounder to second scored Kang and moved Joyce to third. But then, with Starling Marte's eye still swollen and Chris Stewart still banged up, there was no one to pinch hit for Erik Kratz. Kratz remains hitless in his current tour with the Pirates, and this one is in the books.