The Pirates who until very recently led the National league in run scoring had suddenly stopped finding their way home. Other than a ten run explosion on Wednesday against Colorado, the team has failed to score more than one run in any game this week.
Tonight their scoreless streak extended to 14 innings facing the Phillies unheralded starter Ben Lively, who came into the game with a 4.50 career ERA. Fortunately Iva Nova was matching the zeroes on the scoreboard when the Pirates struck first in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Francisco Cervelli was hit by a pitch and went to third on Colin Moran’s line drive to left that Rhys Hoskins played into a double. Jordy Mercer then lifted a high fly to deep right field to plate Cervelli and give the Pirates a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Having thrown 76 pitches through five, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle allowed Nova to stay in the game and make the last out of the sixth, but Nova struggled when he came back out to the mound. After Cesar Hernandez struck out swinging Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera laced singles to put runners at first and third with one out. Hoskins then grounded the ball to third, but Colin Moran passed up a throw home to try in vain for a double play, with Hoskins beating Adam Frazier’s throw to first as Santana crossed home with the tying run.
Michael Feliz came on to strike out a pair in the seventh, but George Kontos, who’s managed only two strikeouts in nine innings all year, didn’t fair as well. Hernandez lined a double into the right field corner at 103 mph. Santana grounded out to first at 103, moving Hernandez, representing the lead run, to third. Then Herrera ripped a grounder at 106 past Josh Bell and into the right field corner for a triple, giving the Phils a 2-1 lead. After walking Rhys Hoskins, Kontos managed to get the final two outs by picking off both base runners. The play began 1-3-4 on Hoskins, then Frazier threw home where Cervelli tagged out Herrera. Seeing Hoskins lollygagging into third, Cervelli threw to Moran who fired to the center fielder Marte who flipped to the left fielder Dickerson who applied the tag for the third out. 1-3-4-2-5-8-7. Polanco and Mercer observed.
Oh yeah. The Pirates tried to mount a rally in the ninth as Mercer doubled with one out, but David Freese popped up and Frazier grounded out against some reliever I’d never heard of as the Phils sealed their second win in as many games.
The wife and I will be making a day trip to Philly for the 4 pm start which pits Steven Brault against Aaron Nola. It might be a long drive home.