A Trevor Williams quality start, a five run fourth inning and a three run Starling Marte tater jumpstarted the Pirates Friday night, resulting in an 8-4 win over the Mets.
Facing a team two times in a row is a tough task for any pitcher. Trevor Williams has had to do it three times this year. Once was against the Reds in March and April. The second twinbill was in early July against the Cubs. Friday’s game against the Mets was the third instance.
In those first two pairings of games, Williams picked up the win in game one and then was hit hard when the other team got a second crack at him. After taking the loss in New York on July 27, he reversed his fortune this time, getting the win (4-4) and a quality start.
“It’s five days in between for them, but it always seems like you hate preparing for the same guys back to back starts,” said Williams. “You really treat it as [lead-off hitter Jeff] McNeil’s first AB tonight was really his fourth at-bat against me.”
The Mets hit like it was their fourth time through the order early on, with McNeil and Pete Alonso each roping doubles within the first four pitches of the game. Alonso was credited with an RBI, as was Wilson Ramos after a productive out. J.D. Davis doubled home another run in the third to make it 3-0 New York.
That ended up being all the Mets could get off of him. Williams wriggled out of trouble and then pitched three perfect innings to end his night, retiring his final 11 batters faced.
“We had to adjust mid-game,” Williams said. “Thankfully, I stuck with D [catcher Elias Diaz], and it was good just to go to Plan B and execute.”
One of those changes was moving away from the sinker. The Mets picked up an RBI on two sinkers early. After throwing 20 sinkers compared to 32 four-seamers in the first four innings, 11 of his final 13 fastballs thrown were four-seamers.
Both of Williams’ strikeouts were on four-seamers: one in the fifth and one in the sixth. His final pitch of the night was also heater up in the zone- a foul out to the first baseman Josh Bell.
Williams lasted six innings, allowing three earned runs. He struck out two, walked three and surrendered six hits.
“It’s true Trevor,” said acting manager Tom Prince. “He grinded through the first three, found a rhythm, and got through the next three innings... He moved forward, just like he always does.”
Trailing 3-0, the Pirates caught fire in the bottom of the fourth, chasing Steven Matz (6-7). The Mets’ left-hander tossed a complete game shutout in his last start against them on July 27, but the Pirates wound up batting around in the inning.
Bell and Jose Osuna opened the scoring with RBI singles, and Melky Cabrera gave the Pirates the lead with a 409 foot double into the left-center notch.
Elias Diaz drove Cabrera home two batters later to make it 5-3.
“He looked very sharp early, just like he did at their place,” Prince said. “And then in the fourth inning, you get that walk [by Bryan Reynolds], and everything snowballed after that off him.”
Matz was pulled after 3.2 innings, allowing five runs.
After the Mets got a run back in the seventh when Kevin Newman could not track down a pop-up, Starling Marte gave the Pirates some insurance by launching a three run homer to left.
Kyle Crick struck out two in the eighth and Felipe Vazquez tossed a 1-2-3 to give the Pirates their fourth win since the All-Star break.
Osuna also helped in the field at the hot corner, making several plays to show off his range at his new position. The highlights include running from his spot in the shift to cover the base and laying down a perfect tag to catch Amed Rosario trying to steal third in the second inning and a leaping grab in the fourth.
“Him and [third base and infield coach] Joey [Cora] have done a tremendous job,” Prince said. “The credit goes to Osuna. Just the work that he puts in...
“It’s great to see him have success over there.”
Prince for a Day (or Two)
Manager Clint Hurdle began serving his two game suspension Friday night for his involvement in the Reds-Pirates brawl on Tuesday, so bench coach Prince took the reigns for the first time of his career.
It was a fairly seamless transition.
“Coaching staff did a great job. We talked just like we [do] when Clint’s there,” Prince said. “The difference was I just walked out to the mound once.”
“It was cool. It was different,” said Newman on Prince managing. “...Hat’s off to him. He’s- I think- 1-0.”
Off the field friends and old AL East rivals will square at PNC Park Saturday night. Marcus Stroman (6-11, 2.96) will make his first start for the Metropolitans, facing Chris Archer (3-8, 5.58). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m..
1. Marte’s home run was his 19th of the season, tying his second best single season mark. His career high is 20, achieved last year.
2. Francisco Liriano fanned McNeil for his 1,800th career strikeout in the seventh. He ranks 12th in career punchouts among active pitchers.
3. Williams snapped a streak of seven straight starts allowing a home run. His previous career high was three straight games.