PIRATES – FRIDAY
Madison Bumgarner not only shut down the Pirates in last year’s National League wild card game.
The big left-hander also took manager Clint Hurdle and the Pirates’ brain trust off the hook when he pitched a four-hit shutout to lead the San Francisco Giants to an 8-0 rout at PNC Park.
Following an ill-advised longshot attempt to win the NL Central and avoid the wild card game, Hurdle started ace right-hander Gerrit Cole in the final game of the regular season against the Reds at Cincinnati.
Cole allowed only one run in seven innings but the Pirates lost the game 4-1 when the Reds scored three runs in the eighth inning off left-handed relievers Tony Watson and Justin Wilson.
By not holding Cole back for the wild card, the Pirates put themselves in a situation where they had to use their No. 3 starter, right-hander Edinson Volquez, against the Giants. Volquez surrendered a fourth-inning grand slam to Brandon Crawford that put the Pirates in a 4-0 hole, which they had no chance of digging out of against Bumgarner.
The Pirates look like they are headed back to the wild card game for the third consecutive season. They trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 4 ½ games in the National League Central but hold a 2 ½-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for the first NL wild card.
This time, with a deft bit of maneuvering, they have Cole lined up to pitch in that game on Oct. 7. If the Pirates somehow overtake the Cardinals to win the division, he would be set to pitch on Oct. 9 in the first game of an NL Division Series.
The Pirates this week decided to skip Cole’s turn in the starting rotation Friday night when they face the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.
There is a twofold reason for the move. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"