The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off their penultimate road trip of their 2019 series on Monday night
After a disappointing 2-4 home stand, the Pittsburgh Pirates returned to the road on Monday night. At Oracle Park in San Francisco the Pirates were playing the Giants while kicking off a four-game series, and a seven-game road trip.
The Pirates bounced back from their disappointing home stand by kicking off their seven-game road trip with a 6-4 victory over the Giants on Monday night. With the win, the Bucs improve to 63-81 overall this season. They have also won 12 of their last 17 games in San Francisco.
Facing Madison Bumgarner the Pirates had an opportunity to strike in the 2nd inning when Jose Osuna walked to start the inning and Jacob Stallings singled with one out. Bumgarner, however, would retire Cole Tucker and Erik Gonzalez to thwart the threat.
In the top half of the 4th inning Stallings threw out a potential base stealer to end the inning. This makes Stallings 7 for 15 this season in throwing out base stealers. Leading off the bottom of the 4th inning his big night continued as he crushed a home run to left field. Stallings 5th home run of the season tied the game at 1.
Entering Monday night’s start Trevor Williams had strung together three consecutive strong starts. After posting a 8.03 ERA, 6.99 FIP, and allowing 2.73 HR/9 in his first 10 starts after returning from the injured list in mid-June, Williams posted a 2.37 ERA, 2.63 FIP, and allowed just one home run in his last three starts.
Early on, Williams was snake bitten. Through his first 4 innings of work he allowed a run on four hits. All four of the hits he allowed had an exit velocity below 87 MPH. However, Trevor was getting burnt by seeing eye singles and broken bat bloopers.
The tough luck would continue for Williams in the 5th.
With one out and two men on base, Stallings fired a snap throw to first base. When he threw the ball lead runner Mauricio Dubon was running, giving him an easy stolen base. After Mike Yastrzemski also stole a base, the Giants had runners on second third with just one out and Buster Posey due up. On the Yastrzemski steal it appeared Stallings had plenty of time to throw him out, but, for whatever reason, he never threw the ball down to second base.
After Williams struck out Posey he looked primed to get out of the mess. But a two-run double by Brandon Belt with two outs would give the Giants a 3-1 lead.
To their credit, the Pirate bats would quickly pick Williams up.
Leading off the top of the 6th inning Bryan Reynolds and Melky Cabrera hit back-to-back doubles to cut the Giant lead to 3-2. Reynolds double was a historic one. It was his 35th double of the season which ties Hall of Famer Paul Waner‘s franchise record for doubles by a rookie. It is safe to say this record will fall between now and the end of the month.
After the Giants had pushed a 4th run across, Williams walked Bumgarner with two outs in the 6th inning. This brought Trevor’s night to an end. Michael Feliz was summoned from the bullpen and struck out Yastrzemski to end the inning, closing the book on Williams.
In 5 2/3 innings pitched Williams allowed 4 runs on eight hits. He also walked three batters to go with six strikeouts. He also get the ball in the yard, which marks the third time in his last four starts that he did not allow a home run. This is a great sign after how much the long ball plagued him in his first 10 starts back off the IL.
While Williams did not pitch as poorly as his final line indicated, he also did not pitch as well as he had in his previous three starts. He did finish with 101 pitches, however, marking the first time since May 10th that he threw at least 100 pitches in a start.
Feliz also deserves some recognition. Quietly, he has been excellent as a reliever this season. If you takeaway his one disastrous outing as a opener, Feliz’s ERA this season is under 2.90. After stranding the two runners he inherited on Monday night, Feliz has now stranded 18 of 25 inherited runners this season.
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Bumgarner took the mound for the 7th inning and quickly found himself in the soup. Tucker doubled to start the inning, Gonzalez walked, and the Pirates had the tying run on base with no one out. However, Mad Bum would put a foot down.
Showing why he has been one of the best starting pitchers in the National League the past decade Bumgarner got a pair of pop outs and a strikeout to clean up the mess. After he pitched out of the trouble he started, the Giants still led 4-2 heading to the 7th inning stretch.
Yacksel Rios pitched the bottom of the 7th inning for the Pirates. Since joining the team as a September call up Rios has been unscored upon out of the Pirate bullpen, and this continued as he fired a 1-2-3 7th inning. Rios has now pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four outings with the Pirates.
After Richard Rodriguez pitched a scoreless 8th inning, the Bucs were off to the 9th trailing 4-2. Pinch hitter Kevin Kramer reached on an infield hit to start the 9th, which chased Tyler Rogers, who pitched a scoreless 8th inning, from the game.
Bruce Bochy summoned veteran lefty Fernando Abad from the bullpen to face Tucker. After Abad retired Tucker, he walked pinch hitter Josh Bell to put two men on base with one out for Elias Diaz. Diaz would rope a ball that one hopped off the left field wall and it appeared he had hit a double that would at least plate a run, if not tie the game. Well, third base coach Joey Cora apparently misread the play and thought the ball had been caught. Not only did he stop Kramer as he was rounding third, he was trying to send Kramer and Bell each back a base. This led to Diaz, who was coasting into second base with what should have been an easy double, having to scramble back to first base while dodging a tag to avoid being thrown out on the bases.
When the smoke cleared from Cora’s snafu, the Pirates had the bases loaded with just one out. Also, Abad’s day was over as Jandel Gustave took over on the mound. Gustave was greeted by a two-run single to right field off the bat of Kevin Newman. This base knock tied the game at 4. Reynolds then blooped a base hit into shallow center field to score Diaz, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead.
Following the Reynolds hit, the Giant defense would go south. An error by Dubon cost the Giants an inning ending double play and loaded the bases with just one out. Osuna then flew out to right field and Newman tagged from third base to head home. It appeared Newman would be thrown out at the plate, but Posey could not hold onto the ball allowing Newman to score to extend the Pirate lead to 6-4. To the Pirates credit, they took advantage of the Giants defensive miscues in the 9th inning.
With the Pirates now leading 6-4, it was Felipe Vazquez time in the bottom of the 9th inning. Felipe did his thing retiring the Giants in order while picking up a pair of strikeouts to slam the door shut in a 6-4 Pirate victory.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates have nothing but their pride left to play for this season, it is good to see the team not quit in the season’s final month. The Pirates are now 4-4 in September, 11-6 in their last 17 games, and 15-12 in their last 27. It reflects very positively on the players in the Pirate clubhouse that they are now just folding up shop and mailing in the rest of this season.
The second game of this series is scheduled for 9:45 on Tuesday night. Mitch Keller (8.18 ERA, 3.70 FIP) will return to the mound for the Pirates after exiting his last start after just 1 1/3 innings pitched due to taking a line drive off his pitching hand. As for the Giants, long time Pirate nemesis Johnny Cueto will make his 2019 season debut as he completes his return from Tommy John Surgery.