Pittsburgh Pirates Start Second Half With Walk Off Victory

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 14: Gerrit Cole
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 14: Gerrit Cole /

The Pittsburgh Pirates started their second half with a walk off victory on Friday night

The Pittsburgh Pirates started the second half of their season with a bang on Friday night. Josh Bell recorded his first career walk off hit in the form of a walk off 3-run home run and helped power the Pirates to a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. This was an excellent way to start a critical 7 game homsetand.

With this win, the Pittsburgh Pirates remain 7 games out of first place in the National League Central. They are now just 3-4 this season against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The top of the 1st inning was not an easy one for Gerrit Cole, even though it should have been.

With 2 outs and a man on first, Cole should have struck out Jedd Gyorko looking to end the inning. Unfortunately, home plate umpire Jerry Layne forgot what a strike zone is and called it a ball.

4 pitches later, Gyorko hit a 2-run home run to center field. The 20th home run allowed by Cole this season made it 2-0 Cardinals.

After 30 pitches, the top of the 1st inning ended with the Cardinals leading 2-0. Had Jerry Layne done his job, it would have been 0-0 after the top of the 1st and Cole would have only thrown 19 pitches.

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To start the bottom of the 1st inning Adam Frazier singled. Josh Bell then drew a 2-out walk. However, Cardinal starter Mike Leake escaped the jam by getting David Freese to pop out on the infield.

The Pittsburgh Pirates got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

Gerrit Cole reached on an infield hit to start the inning. Then following an Andrew McCutchen single put runners on the corners with 2 outs, Josh Bell ripped a RBI single to right field to cut the Cardinal lead to 2-1 after 3 innings of play.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Pirates threatened to tie the game.

A Gregory Polanco doubled and Jordy Mercer walk gave the Pirates runners on the corners with 1 out. The Cardinals, however, challenged that Yadier Molina picked Polanco off third base on ball 4 to Mercer. After review, St. Louis won the challenge and Polanco was called out on due to a completely inexcusable mistake.

The inning ended on an arguably even worse play by Gerrit Cole. The Pirates’ starting pitcher grounded out to third baseman Jedd Gyorko who threw the ball over the head of first baseman Matt Carpenter. For whatever reason, Cole was not even so much as jogging down the line which allowed Carpenter to come off the bag, catch the ball, and still get back to first base and tag it to end the inning.

Gregory Polanco made up for his snafu in the bottom of the 5th inning. With 2 outs Leake issued 3 consecutive walks to load the bases for Polanco. Polanco then smoked a game tying single to right field, making the score 2-2 after 5 innings.

Jordy Mercer and pinch hitter Jose Osuna hit back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the 6th. Once again the Pirates had a chance for a big inning, and once again failed.

After Adam Frazier fell behind in the count 0-2 after Clint Hurdle foolishly asked him to lay down a sacrifice bunt, he would hit into a 5-4 double play. This double play eliminated the two lead runners.

Adam Frazier attempted to advance to second base on the play. However, the umpires ruled time had been called. This led to Clint Hurdle arguing the call and being ejected.

PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 14: Manager Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates argues with home plate umpire Jerry Layne
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 14: Manager Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates argues with home plate umpire Jerry Layne /

After allowing the Gyorko home run in the first inning, Cole settled in and pitching a very strong game. After the home run Cole retired 16 of the last 18 hitters he faced. He allowed 4 hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out 4 in 6 innings pitched.

After Tony Watson fired a 1-2-3 top of the 7th inning, more controversy would ensue in the bottom half of the inning. After a 2 out double by David Freese, Gregory Polanco blooped a ball down the left field line that clanked off Gyorko’s glove and landed in foul territory.

The controversy came over where Gyorko was when the ball hit his glove. On replay, he appeared to be in fair territory. Which in turn would have made it a fair ball, allowed Freese to score, and made the score 3-2 Pirates. After a Pirate challenge, the call stood and Polanco struck out to end the inning.

Juan Nicasio pitched a scoreless top of the 8th inning, which was followed by a scoreless bottom half from Trevor Rosenthal. Felipe Rivero then entered the game for the Pirates. Rivero would do what he does and retire the Cardinals in order while recording a strikeout.

Adam Frazier collected his third hit of the game when he doubled off Seung-hwan Oh to start the bottom of the 9th. After a Josh Harrison fly out, Andrew McCutchen was intentionally walked to put men on first and second with 1 out for Josh Bell.

Josh Bell would make the Cardinals pay for this decision. The rookie sensation would crush a 1-2 pitch from Oh over the bleachers in left field for his 17th home run of the season and his first career walk off hit. This gave the Pirates a 5-2 victory on Friday night.

Next: A look at numbers from the first half

There is no better way to start the second half of the season than with a walk off victory over your biggest division rival, and that is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates did on Friday night. Friday night’s game was a bizarre and controversial one that would have been a tough pill swallow as a loss, kudos to the Bucs for battling and getting the victory.

Game 2 of this 3 game weekend series is scheduled for 7:05 PM on Saturday. Jameson Taillon will start for the Pirates, while the Cardinals send Lance Lynn to the mound. The Pirates will be looking to win the series on Saturday night.