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Pirates beat Jays, 4-2, but at what cost?

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates took a 4-2 win from Toronto behind some stellar pitching by Jameson Taillon and George Kontos. The win may have come at a cost, though, as Andrew McCutchen left the game with a knee injury.

The game could have gone very differently, as Jays’ ace Marcus Stroman had little more trouble with the Pirates’ lineup than Justin Verlander did two nights ago. Stroman allowed just four hits and a walk over eight innings.

The big difference in the two games was some defensive tomfoolery that cost Stroman four unearned runs in the third. With the Jays up, 1-0, a hit batsman and an error put runners on the corners with one out for Adam Frazier, who grounded to third. Josh Donaldson threw to Rob Refsnyder at second in plenty of time and Frazier beat the throw to first, scoring one run. The Pirates challenged the call at second, though, and the replay showed Refsnyder had crossed over the bag before taking the throw. That left two on and Josh Harrison plated one with a base hit. McCutchen then picked up another with a double that ticked off the glove of center fielder Kevin Pillar. A Josh Bell sacrifice fly made it 4-1. Two pitches after the Bell fly, though, McCutchen suddenly clutched his left knee and quickly limped off the field. Nothing specific happened that would explain the injury.

The four-run gift was all for the Pirates’ offense, as they never got another runner past first. Harrison had two hits, McCutchen and Frazier each one.

Fortunately, Taillon settled down after some early trouble, just as he did in his last start. He got hit hard early, with a pair of line drive singles and a sac fly producing a run in the second, and a Jose Bautista blast a second one in the third. A single followed the HR, but Taillon then retired a dozen straight batters, five of them on strikes.

Taillon seemingly ran out of gas in the seventh, giving up a double and single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Enter Kontos, who got a pop fly, a strikeout and a ground out to extinguish the threat with no damage. Juan Nicasio and Felipe Rivero followed with an inning each, in both cases allowing a two-out single. Rivero fanned the hapless Refsnyder — who whiffed four times — to record the save.

The Pirates have stated that McCutchen is day to day with left patella discomfort. Pirate fans can only hope that Cutch is so hot that even the dreaded “d” word can’t stop him. He wasn’t the only noteworthy casualty, as Toronto catcher Russell Martin left after hurting his side on a swing. Pirate fans will no doubt hope to see Martin recover fully . . . two days from now.