MORNING PIRATES BUZZ
The Clayton Kershaw – Gerrit Cole matchup failed to live up to the hype of a potential pitching duel but what nearly 40,000 fans got to see was just a great baseball game between two very good teams.
“It was a cool atmosphere tonight,” Gerrit Cole said……”Unfortunately I just wasn’t [very] good.”
Cole allowed four hits and three runs in six innings pitched and to his credit, he has now allowed three earned runs or less in 21 of 22 starts.
One area that stood out in a negative way for Cole Friday night was his command in getting behind in counts as the game progressed.
“Almost two four pitch walks, that’s unlike me,” Cole said.
Cole threw 15 first pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced. In the fourth inning is where the command started to go a bit as Andre Either walked to leadoff the inning on four pitches, but Cole would get Yasmani Grandal to hit into a double play and after falling behind 3-1 to Yasiel Puig, Cole battled back to strike out Puig.
In the fifth inning, Cole walked Joc Pederson on five pitches with one out and then hit Clayton Kershaw with a pitch. The Dodgers would end up scoring two runs in the inning to take a 3-2 lead but the Pirates had Cole’s back in putting up a two-run inning themselves in the fifth to regain the lead, 4-3.
While Cole didn’t have his A-stuff, the Pirates were very strong defensive behind him.
A storyline in the hours leading up to the game was manager Clint Hurdle scratching Neil Walker from the lineup vs the lefty Kershaw for the start of the big series and starting Sean Rodriguez at second base.
Rodriguez was a different maker in the field with a tone-setting double play in the first, made another excellent play in the fourth. Rodriguez in the 10th laid down a one-out bunt to load the bases for Pedro Alvarez’ game winning walk-off single to right.
“We played great D,” Cole said. “Sean [Rodriguez] way to start the game with that tone-setting double play, Aramis Ramirez was in the dirt all night. We answered back,” Cole said.
Rodriguez is the type of player you always see managers have an admiration for and that’s happening here with Hurdle.
McCutchen vs Kershaw: Edge McCutchen
The Pirates got to Clayton Kershaw immediately last night as Gregory Polanco took a first pitch from the CY Young winner deep for his 6th home run of the season and Kershaw’s scoreless streak came to a halt at 37 innings with Polanco delivering a lead-off homer.
Kershaw never found a groove against the Pirates as he lasted six innings, his shortest outing since June 17 and the 9 hits allowed were the most allowed by Kershaw since April 11 vs The Diamondbacks when he allowed a season-high 10 hits.
“Give the Pirates credit. They battled me,” Kershaw said.
The edge Friday night between the Pirates top of the order vs Kershaw was strongly in the Pirates favor.
Gregory Polanco who went 2-5 in the game with HR, was 2-4 with HR, single vs Kershaw, while a great head-to-head matchup with Kershaw vs Andrew McCutchen, the two reining MVP’s, saw McCutchen reach base all three times vs Kershaw.
In the first inning McCutchen walked on five pitches and followed that up with a strong at-bat in the fourth.
Kershaw would get ahead on McCutchen 1-2 but McCutchen on a full-count would single to shallow left for a leadoff hit and would later score on a bases loaded walk by Chris Stewart in the inning.
The next inning McCutchen would get to Kershaw again. With Starling Marte at first, McCutchen drove a first pitch to deep right center off Kershaw, scoring Marte from first as the Pirates tied the game at 3-3.
Head-to-head vs Kershaw, McCutchen was 2-2 with a single, double, RBI and walk.
KANG HAS IMPRESSIVE AT-BAT VS KERSHAW IN 4TH
The biggest area for Jung Ho Kang that has stood out for him is how smart he is as a hitter. His fundamentals are excellent and his ability to adjust to Major League pitching so quickly has caught just about everyone in the organization by surprise.
In Kang’s first at-bat last night vs Kershaw, he struck out on four pitches.
The second time around was on of the best at-bats of the night.
Kang again fell behind vs Kershaw, this time 1-2. Fouls off the fourth pitch of the at-bat and the next pitch Kang shows great patience taking a Kershaw breaking ball to right field for a single advancing McCutchen to third and Ramirez to second.
Kang was 2-4 with a run, BB in the win.