Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pirates Game 64 Recap - Pirates 8, Giants 2

I would like to say hello to everyone again. I have been really off the grid recap wise for the last couple of weeks. This is what happens in the midst of a summer that is littered with weddings and that will continue for spurts of the rest of the summer but there was no way I was going to miss this one tonight. Sure this game was pretty important as the Pirates were playing the reigning World Series champions but this was a night all about Gerrit Cole. Cole was making his major league debut and this was about as hyped of a debut (as a fan) for a Pirates player in a long time. Sure I was excited for Brad Lincoln's debut a while back but in terms of pitching debuts it didn't get much bigger than this. Cole didn't disappoint.

I really was excited about this game for Cole alone. I wasn't really sure what to expect as he has been a little bit of a mystery in AAA this year with a low strikeout total and a really slow start but he blew me away tonight. I didn't really expect him to get through the sixth inning and really thought he would let the emotions get the best of him and therefore cut his outing short. Far from that. He went 6.1 innings, gave up only a pair of runs, seven hits, struck out two, and didn't issue a walk. For a guy that was off and on with his control he was deadly accurate tonight:

That is a lot of heat. Most of that was in the mid to upper 90s and was throwing 96-98 in the seventh inning. Really just amazing stuff to watch. For much of the first three innings it was all fastballs and while the Giants were able to get four hits off him in the first two innings they weren't able to put good wood on the ball at all. After Cole hit Gregory Blanco with a pitch with two outs in the second inning he sat down the next 13 hitters with perfect innings in third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.

For his first outing of his career you really have to be impressed with what he did. While the Giants aren't the most offensively talented team in the league they still are a pretty good team and Cole pretty much shut them down for six straight innings. He was getting ahead of hitters and I can only remember maybe one batter (there could be another but I am going off memory here) that he fell behind in the count to and he just pumped the strike zone. The one downside is that he only had two strikeouts and with the hard fastball and the really good secondary stuff you would expect more strikeouts but he was wildly effective for a majority of the game. Obviously you are going to want to see him put more hitters away without them putting the ball in play but I think that will come. He really went fastball heavy and almost all of his 65 fastballs were of the four seam variety so you would think that once he gets a few starts and gets comfortable he will mix in his other pitches early and often.

Cole also got into the act as a hitter. He didn't have a hit in his minor league career and didn't hit at UCLA but in the bottom of the second inning he platted two runs with a single to right field. He was down 0-2 in the count and battled back and slapped a single to right and nearly drove in another run as the ball almost went to the wall. Not really sure it could have been any better for Cole. Must have really been cool to go up there with the bat and get his first since since high school (probably, right?) and then go out and dominate on the mound. Good for him and good for the Pirates.

It must be mentioned that Russell Martin did an outstanding job for Cole. Wally Bell was behind the plate and was spotty at best and while the pitches were most likely strikes (I will have to look at the pitchFX tomorrow) he was doing a great job of sticking those low pitches and giving Cole the best chance to get those called strikes. I know I talk about it all the time but man do I love Martin behind the plate. Oh yea, he had two hits on the day too. Just another day.

For a while there it looked like the Pirates offense was going to try and make Cole make his two run single hold up for the rest of the game. Lucky for Cole, and the rest of the staff, that wasn't true and the Pirates offense busted out in a big way. They collected 11 hits and scored eight runs off the Giants to make sure that Cole would get the win and that it would really be a memorable night.

Pedro Alvarez had a really big night has he had hits in each of his three at bats including a monster two run bomb in the seventh inning that went out of the stadium (I guess) to right center and boy was it a bomb. A no doubter if you must. Pedro has been swinging the bat pretty well lately as he looks like he is squaring everything up and has ten hits in his last ten games with four home runs and only three games where he didn't record a hit. He also has been playing some unreal defense for the Pirates. I wish he could get a little bit more consistency offensively but it is what it is. He is swinging the bat pretty well.

The other interesting part of the game came when George Kontos got tossed after throwing at Starling Marte (unsuccessfully) and Andrew McCutchen (successfully). This stemmed (I think) from when Marco Scutaro was hit in the wrist by Tony Watson in what looked like an innocent inside pitch gone bad. Scutaro probably broke his wrist and as one of the Giants top hitters I guess Kontos thought he needed to respond. He threw behind Marte (literally) and got a warning then threw two pitches that missed inside to McCutchen before hitting him in the butt. He was then tossed. Really weird. I hope the Pirates don't feel like they have to respond, because that would be dumb. McCutchen was not happy at all as he went to break up the inning ending double play and slid really hard and wide of second base on the ensuing play. I am not sure if the ROOT feed showed that but I had the Giants feed up (what MLB Network gave me) and they showed it one time.

McCutchen looked really good with a pair of hits and a stolen base and reached base four times in five plate appearances.

All-in-all just a really fun game to watch. The crowd at the game was really into it and it seemed like it was a great atmosphere. They drew in nearly 31,000 people for a Tuesday game which is impressive. This went better than some of the other debuts for Pirates pitchers and I must say that tomorrow at work I will most likely be reading about Mr. Cole and studying his outing. Not really sure what else work expects me to do, right?

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