20-plus media members and five camera lined up by Gerrit Cole’s locker following the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday afternoon as part of a doubleheader.
Jordy Mercer observed the scene and was surprised by the growing amounts of media that pay visits to the clubhouse.
“They’re focused daily and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been so successful,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We can’t control the externals. There’s more people that are going to come, more media’s going to come and it’s good experience for all of us.”
A shaky seventh inning allowed the Cubs to tie the game, however a Starling Marte sacrifice fly was the difference as it scored the game-winning run.
“Maybe not how you draw it up, but a win is a win and we needed it,” said Gerrit Cole.
A 30-minute first inning produced the majority of the scoring.
The Cubs opened the scoring when Dexter Fowler hit a lead-off single. He stole second base and advanced to third on an error from Chris Stewart. Chris Coghlan hit a sacrifice fly to score the runner. The run was not earned.
In the bottom half of the inning, Andrew McCutchen batted in his 93rd run of the season with a single. Gregory Polanco walked and Neil Walker was hit by a pitch prior to the McCutchen at-bat.
Travis Snider was looking for a job in early August after he was released by the Baltimore Orioles. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon and it was Snider who is enjoying the last laugh.
“Travis has good experience with us and shown the ability to drive in some big runs and do some things,” Hurdle said. “He plays a dependable outfield.”
For the second consecutive game, Snider picked up a two-run hit this time in the first inning breaking a 1-1 tie. Snider made his third start as a Pirate this season and reached base twice.
Gerrit Cole helped out his own cause with a single, his eighth hit of the season. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored when Walker hit a double, his first since Sept. 1.
Walker has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 home games against the Cubs and has 44 extra-base hits to lead all National League second basemen.
Gerrit Cole got the first out in the seventh inning before the trouble came. Cole had retired 11 consecutive Cubs batters, however Miguel Montero and Starlin Castro each singled. Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella doubled in a run ending Cole’s outing.
Joakim Soria then entered the game and a couple of wild pitches tied the game. Fans booed Soria when he came off the mound.
With Justin Grimm [3-5] on the mound, Pedro Alvarez worked a walk before being lifting for pinch-runner Pedro Florimon. Immediately Montero’s arm was put to the test as Florimon attempted to steal second base. The throw was off the mark and Montero’s error allowed for Florimon to advance to first base.
Marte, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the seventh inning, then hit a 2-1 Grimm offering for a sacrifice fly. Florimon used a head-first slide to score what became the game-winning run.
“He’s tried to stay ready with velocity and spin in the cage,” said Hurdle of Marte. “The way the game played out there was an opportunity to get him involved on the defensive side. He of course showed up well on the offensive side.”
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth earning his 46th save of the season. The 46 saves tie Mike Williams for most in a single season. He also recorded 26 of those saves at PNC Park.
Tony Watson got the win and is 4-1 on the season.
The second game of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. J.A. Happ [5-1 1.79 ERA] will face Jon Lester [9-10 3.50 ERA].
Play of the day: Gregory Polanco threw out Cubs pitcher Trevor Cahill in the top of the fifth inning. Cahill appeared to have a single to right field however Polanco used him arm to make the 9-3 putout.
“I told him [Alvarez] I was playing short and if he hits it over here I know he is not fast,” Polanco said. “As soon as I had the ball I threw it.”
He said it: “Great victory! I’m honored to be a part of such a rich history here in #Pittsburgh #46” – Mark Melancon
Photo credit: @Pirates