The Pirates stuck a fork in Matt Cain, and Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer supported a decent-ish Gerrit Cole with three-run HRs, leading to a 10-3 win over San Francisco in the opener of a three-game series.
The Bucs didn’t waste time in showing they’d read the scouting reports on Cole’s struggling mound opponent. Cain managed the difficult feat of walking Starling Marte to start the game and a Josh Harrison double put runners on second and third. Andrew McCutchen followed with a ground out for one run and Josh Bell ripped a double off the wall in right-center to plate another. In the second, after an error extended Cain’s struggles, Harrison had an RBI single and McCutchen belted a three-run HR, his 18th longball of the year. That made it 6-0. (McCutchen’s HR clearly bounced off the chest of some ham-handed guy in the stands, but Bruce Bochy for some reason got himself ejected for arguing the HR call. Maybe he couldn’t take any more.)
Cole has had better games, especially when you take into account the fact that the Giants are the second-lowest-scoring team in MLB. He walked four and threw a lot of pitches -- 115 through six innings — but mostly got outs when he needed them. Singles by Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey plated runs in the fourth and fifth. The fourth inning ended with the bases loaded and the Giants’ fifth inning rally was cut. Cole got a break in the fifth on Posey’s hit. McCutchen trapped the ball but held it up as if he’d caught it. The delay while he held it up seemingly encouraged Brandon Belt, who’d been on first, to try for third and McCutchen threw him out out. Six was all for Cole and he left having allowed two runs and six hits, with four strikeouts.
Tony Watson labored through a lengthy seventh inning, giving up an RBI hit to Posey, but a double play helped him out. The Pirates got more than that back, though, in the eighth when Jordy Mercer belted his 10th HR into the seats in left with two on base. The Bucs added a tenth run two batters later when Jose Osuna singled and chugged in to score on a double by Starling Marte. Mercer finished with three hits, as did Josh Bell, and McCutchen drove in four.
Juan Nicasio had an uneventful inning and, despite the seven-run lead, Clint Hurdle went with Felipe Rivero in the ninth. That’s probably because Rivero hadn’t pitched in four days. He walked the first batter he saw but retired the next three. (Eduardo Nunez, who makes Harrison look patient, popped up on the first pitch after the walk, which should be a bit of a cautionary note should the Pirates seek to acquire him.) That left the final count at 10-3.
The win returned the Pirates to .500. Milwaukee was off, the Cubs lost to the torn-down White Sox, and the Cardinals won. That leaves the Pirates two and a half behind the Brewers, two behind the Cubs and one and a half ahead of the Cards. In game two by the Bay, Jameson Taillon draws Madison Bumgarner, who scuffled a bit in his first two starts back following his dirt bike tomfoolery.