The main problem of the Pittsburgh Pirates was perfectly on display in this two-game series against the Seattle Mariners: sometimes, the starting pitching works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, the offense strings its hits together, and sometimes it spreads them out. Sometimes, the Pirates look ready to beat anyone, and sometimes it’s hard to remember how they ever win.
As Andrew McCutchen said after the game, I thought that Cole looked good in his last start against Philadelphia and caught a handful of bad breaks. Last night, he caught basically all of the good ones, with sparkling defense behind him from David Freese and Josh Harrison and Jung Ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez. I’m not sure Cole needed the help; he didn’t walk anyone, he struck out six, and he threw a 99 mph fastball (his hardest pitch of the night) for his 91st pitch that made me briefly forget which number was his pitch count and which number was miles per hour.
The offense poured it on after Josh Harrison’s leadoff triple in the third inning: in that inning, Jordy Mercer doubled Harrison in, Andrew McCutchen doubled Mercer in, and Kang drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home a third run. In the seventh, Starling Marte drew a bases loaded walk and then Kang cleared the bases with a double. In the eighth, McCutchen homered into dead center to score three more runs.
The Pirates are now 6-5 after the All-Star Break, which is a record that you can dismissively refer to as “fine,” I think, since it hasn’t made much headway in either the division or the Wild Card, but allows them to hover at 2 1/2 behind the Marlins and eight behind the Cubs. The Brewers and Braves are on the schedule next; we’re officially approaching now-or-never territory.
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