Pittsburgh Pirates Win First Game in Toronto
Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates got back to .500 on the season
The Pittsburgh Pirates are now 58-58 this season. They started their three game series in Toronto with a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night. With the win, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central pending the outcome of tonight’s game between the Cubs and Diamondbacks.
In Friday night’s game the Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed a lead in the 3rd inning and never looked back. Unfortunately, it was not all good on Friday night. Andrew McCutchen exited the game with a knee injury that would be described as ‘patella femoral discomfort’ in the 3rd inning.
Friday night’s game featured what was expected to be a great pitching matchup between Marcus Stroman and Jameson Taillon. The two young right-handed studs would not disappoint fans on Friday night.
Toronto scored first in the bottom of the 2nd inning. The Blue Jays would load the bases, but Jameson Taillon would do a nice job of limiting damage.
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After the Blue Jays loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 Toronto. Taillon then struck out Rob Refsnyder to end the inning, holding the Blue Jays to just a single run in the inning.
In the top of the 3rd inning the Pirates would quickly get that run back.
John Jaso was hit by a pitch with 1 out in the inning. Then, Francisco Cervelli reached on an error by Refsnyder. On the error, Jaso advanced to third base. With runners on the corners and no one out Adam Frazier grounded out to third baseman Josh Donaldson.
At first, it appeared Donaldson made a great play to get Cervelli out at second base. However, after a challenge by acting manager Tom Prince, the play was overturned. This play tied the score at 1 and gave the Pirates runners on first and second. It also gave the Blue Jays their second error of the inning.
Josh Harrison would then collect a base hit. This scored Cervelli, put runners on the corners, and gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Andrew McCutchen then drove a pitch to center field that went off the glove of a diving Kevin Pillar. This scored Frazier, gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead, and put runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly by Josh Bell then made the score 4-1.
While the Pirates collected 4 runs and ran Marcus Stroman’s pitch count up over 50, the top of the 3rd inning was not all good. While leading off second base, McCutchen grabbed his knee and then left the game with a limp. Starling Marte took over for McCutchen in center field.
Ex-Pirate Jose Bautista then led off the bottom of the 3rd inning with his 20th home run of the season. This cut the Pirate lead to 4-2 after 3 innings of play.
Jameson Taillon would then cruise through the next 3 innings. He would retire the Blue Jays in order in each of these innings, while also recording 4 strikeouts.
Outside of the 3rd inning, which was not completely his making, Marcus Stroman was excellent on Friday night. He allowed just 3 hits, he issued just a single walk, and he struck out 4 in 7 innings of work. All 4 runs allowed by Stroman were unearned.
Taillon ran into trouble in the bottom of the 7th inning. Ezequiel Carrera doubled to start the inning and Ryan Goins reached on a ground ball hit to center field. With runners on the corners and no one out Taillon was lifted for George Kontos.
Kontos got Kevin Pillar to pop out to shortstop Jordy Mercer for the first out of the inning. Kontos then struck out Rob Refsnyder for the second out of the inning. Jose Bautista then grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. This was absolutely excellent work by Kontos, who has quickly become a vital part of the Pirate bullpen.
In his return to his native Canada, Jameson Taillon pitched a fine game on Friday night. He held the Blue Jays to 2 runs on 6 hits, a walk, and 7 strikeouts in 6+ innings pitched. This gives Taillon back-to-back strong starts after back-to-back disasters.
With the Pirates leading 4-2, Juan Nicasio was called upon to pitch the bottom of the 8th inning. Nicasio would work around a Justin Smoak single to post a zero and keep the score at 4-2 Pirates after 8 innings of play.
After the Pirates were retired in the top of the 9th inning, Felipe Rivero entered the game in the inning’s bottom half. Rivero would need just 12 pitches to retire the Blue Jays, and close out a 4-2 Pirate victory.
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Hopefully, Andrew McCutchen’s knee issue will prove to be minor. If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to continue their strong play of the past three months and reach the postseason, they need a healthy Andrew McCutchen. It might be a smart idea to give Cutch a day or two off just to be safe.
The second game of this series is scheduled for 1:07 on Saturday afternoon. Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates, while Chris Rowley will be making his Major League debut for the Pirates. On paper, this is a matchup that greatly favors the Pirates. With a win on Saturday, the Pirates will capture their first road interleague series victory this season.