Pittsburgh Pirates Cruise Past Giants in Series Opener

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 24: Josh Harrison
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 24: Josh Harrison /

The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up their first victory over the San Francisco Giants this season on Monday night

After defeating the San Francisco Giants by a score of 10-3 on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 50-50 this season. The Pirates continue to play as well as any team in baseball as they are now 13-7 in the month of July, and 24-15 in their past 39 games.

This hot stretch has pulled the Pirates to just 2.5 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. Monday night’s victory improved the Pirates to 2-2 on their current 9 game West Coast trip. It also gave the Bucs their first win over the Giants this season after San Francisco swept a 3 game series in Pittsburgh earlier this month.

On Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates would quickly strike first.

Starling Marte drew a walk against San Francisco starter Matt Cain to begin the top of the 1st inning. Josh Harrison then doubled to put runners on second and third with no one out. This was followed by a RBI ground out from Andrew McCutchen to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

This lead would quickly grow when Josh Bell followed McCutchen with a RBI double to score Harrison and make it 2-0 Pirates. Cain would retire the next two Pirate hitters to end the inning, but not before throwing 29 pitches and the Pirates had a 2-0 lead.

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In the top of the 2nd inning, the Pirate lead would grow.

Jordy Mercer singled with 1 out and moved to second base on Gerrit Cole‘s sacrifice bunt. Starling Marte then hit what appeared to be an inning ended ground out to third base. However, a fielding error by Eduardo Nunez allowed Marte to reach and kept the inning alive.

Josh Harrison then made the Giants pay for Nunez’s error with a bloop hit to left field. This hit scored Mercer and made the Pirate lead 3-0. Andrew McCutchen then made Nunez’s error really hurt when he crushed his 18th home run of the season out to left field. This made the score 6-0 Pirates.

Gerrit Cole started for the Pirates on Monday night and cruised through the first 3 innings. Then in the 4th inning, he ran into trouble. However, he did a great job of limiting damage.

Brandon Belt doubled to start the bottom of the 4th inning and scored on a 1-out singled by Brandon Crawford. This cut the Pirate lead to 6-1. After issuing a pair of walks, Cole faced a bases loaded situation with 2 outs. However, he got pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie to ground out to end the inning.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 24: Gerrit Cole
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 24: Gerrit Cole /

Gerrit Cole was squeezed badly by home plate umpire Chris Conroy in the bottom of the 4th inning. Both of Cole’s walks should have ended in a strikeout, but Conroy forgot what a strike zone is.

Gillaspie pinch-hitting ended Matt Cain’s night. In 4 innings of work, Cain was tagged for 6 runs on 6 hits, a walk, and McCutchen’s home run.

In the bottom of the 5th inning, Chris Conroy’s squeeze job would continue. Gerrit Cole walked Denard Span to start the inning. Span saw 5 pitches, they were all strikes, he did not swing at any of them, and he still drew a walk.

Then with 1 out and runners on the corners, Buster Posey singled to center field. This scored Span and cut the Pirate lead to 6-2. On the play, Andrew McCutchen trapped the ball but that did not stop Brandon Belt from being utterly confused on the bases. Belt got tied up on what to do and was thrown out trying to advance to third base by McCutchen.

Cole then got Brandon Crawford to ground out to end the inning.

The Pirates threatened to add to their lead in the top of the 6th inning but would fail to do so. Francisco Cervelli singled with 2 outs and then went to third on a Jordy Mercer single. However, Gerrit Cole would strikeout to end the inning.

Cole would work around a 2-out single by Gorkys Hernandez to post a zero in the bottom of the 6th inning. The 6th inning would be Cole’s final inning of work on Monday night. In 6 innings of work, he allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. If not for Chris Conroy’s awful strike zone, odds are, Cole would have pitched at least another inning on Monday night.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Pirates turned to Tony Watson. Watson issued a walk to Denard Span and allowed a single to Eduardo Nunez to start the inning. After Brandon Belt hit into a 4-6-3 double play, Buster Posey collected a RBI single to cut the Pirate lead to 6-3. Watson would then strike out Brandon Crawford to end the inning.

Josh Bell and David Freese collected back-to-back singled to start the top of the 8th inning off of new Giants’ pitcher Josh Osich. Then with 2 outs and the runners now on second and third, Jordy Mercer launched his 10th home run of the season into the San Francisco night. This extended the Pirate lead to 9-3.

Pinch-hitter Jose Osuna would then collect a base hit. This was followed by a Starling Marte double. Marte’s first extra base hit since returning from his suspension scored Osuna, and made the score 10-3 Pirates.

Despite the Pirates leading by 7, Juan Nicasio still pitched the top of the 8th inning. The Pirates setup man had not pitched since last Thursday against the Brewers and needed work. Despite needing 24 pitches to do so, Nicasio would pitch a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning.

Like Nicasio, Felipe Rivero had not pitched since last Thursday and needed work. Due to this, he pitched the bottom of the 9th for the Pirates. After walking Denard Span to start the inning, Rivero retired the next 3 Giant hitters to finish off a 10-3 Pirate victory.

Next: The Pirate Starting Rotation Needs Help

Game 2 of this 3 game series is scheduled for 10:15 PM in the East on Tuesday night. It is slated to feature what should be a great pitching matchup between Jameson Taillon and Madison Bumgarner. The Pirates will be looking to capture a series victory for the 5th time in their last 6 series played.