The Pittsburgh Pirates improved to a season-best 13 games over .500 with a series win over the Cleveland Indians by a score of 5-3 on Sunday. Behind another good performance from Gerrit Cole and a big fifth inning, the Pirates now sit at 47-34 after the midway point of the season. Gerrit Cole became the first pitcher in the majors to earn his 12th win with his eight innings of work on Sunday, allowing three runs and retiring the final 16 batters he faced. Mark Melancon came into the game in the ninth to seal the victory, earning his major league-best 27th save of the season.
Opposite Cole on the mound was Danny Salazar, who seemed to be cruising until the fifth inning, which he couldn’t get through. He ended up lasting just 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk, but still managed to strike out seven. Four Indians’ relievers combined to shutout the Pirates the rest of the way, but those five runs would be enough for the victory.
The Indians struck first in the second inning when Michael Bourn singled to right, driving in Carlos Santana. Catcher Roberto Perez would double the lead on a bloop single to left, scoring Bourn. Cleveland would then go up 3-0 when Michael Brantley singled to left, scoring Jason Kipnis. The Pirates wouldn’t get their first hit until the third inning, but used a big fifth inning to take the lead. After Jung Ho Kang singled, Pedro Alvarez hit his first home run with a man on base this year to close the Cleveland lead to one run. Neil Walker would single later in the inning, tying the game at three. With two on and two outs, Andrew McCutchen doubled off the wall in left center, scoring two and giving the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
Cleveland wouldn’t get another base runner after the third inning until the ninth when Santana was hit by a pitch. Gerrit Cole retired the final 16 batters he faced before being relieved by Melancon, who closed the door with his 27th save, sealing the Pirates’ 5-3 victory.
What Stood Out
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Gerrit Cole continues to make a push to be named to his first all-star team, as he recovered tremendously from a poor start to the game. He’s only allowed more than three runs once on the season, and his ERA now sits at 2.28 for the year. He also only walked one batter on the day.
Mark Melancon also continues to make a push for the all-star game. He earned his major league-best 27th save and his ERA now sits at 1.58 for the year. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 11th.
Andrew McCutchen will hope to hear his name announced as a starter in the outfield for the NL all-star team on Sunday night. He increased his hitting streak to 12 games and he added two RBIs on the day, giving him 51 for the year. He’s on pace for a career-best 102 RBIs this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (47-34) open up their second-to-last series before the all-star break on Monday night against the San Diego Padres (39-45), who they split a four-game series with at the end of May. A.J. Burnett (7-2, 2.05 ERA) hopes to also make his case for the all-star team as he starts for the Pirates. James Shields (7-3, 4.14 ERA) will start for the Padres. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM at PNC Park.