I said before the game that I thought the Pirates could get to Cole Hamels, but I don’t think that I thought they’d tee off on him the way they did in the fifth inning. They entered the inning with a 1-0 lead thanks to an early Staring Marte homer, and exited the inning with Hamels in the showers and a 6-0 lead.
The five runs were actually probably not the worst-case scenario for the Rangers in that inning, since they came in the first five batters in an inning when the Pirates sent eleven hitters to the plate. Those first five hitters were Sean Rodriguez (walk), Jordy Mercer (reached on error), Andrew McCutchen (RBI single), David Freese (RBI single), and Jung Ho Kang (three-run opposite field homer). Hamels lasted five more batters and left with the bases loaded. The Pirates couldn’t add on in the fifth after Hamels left, but they did get homers from McCutchen and Polanco later in the game to bring the run total to nine.
Maybe more important for the Pirates was Jon Niese’s start, though. Niese made it through six without incident and while he did give up another home run, that was the extent of the damage against him. He only allowed one walk, he got ten groundouts, and even though he gave up seven hits, the Rangers didn’t really feel like they were threatening much until his last inning. By that point the lead was big enough that Wilfredo Boscan and Rob Scahill could finish things out.
This is ten wins in 12 games for the Pirates, and it’s probably the most impressive of the bunch since the first one. Any game that features homers from Marte, Kang, McCutchen, and Polanco is a good reminder about why it’s good to be a Pirate fan right now.
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