The Pirates continued their string of strong starts with Trevor Williams on the mound. The offense still sucked, but it did just enough, and the bullpen didn’t blow it, as the Pirates beat the Cubs, 2-1.
Williams was the only starter who hadn’t participated in the Pirates’ excellent run of starts. He didn’t get off to an auspicious start, either, giving up a dinger to the second Cubs’ hitter, Anthony Rizzo. That gave Williams the undisputed major league lead in gopher balls.
Instead of his start immediately going south, though, Williams pitched scorelessly after that into the sixth inning. He gave up just two more hits, both doubles to Cameron Maybin, and walked three. Williams left after Maybin doubled with two out in the sixth. He’d fanned four and thrown 101 pitches. Austin Davis relieved and stranded the runner. That sixth inning could have been worse but for a diving stop and throw by Ke’Bryan Hayes to steal a hit before the double. Hayes may be pretty decent at third, but we need more evaluation.
After Rizzo’s homer, the Pirates came back quickly in the bottom of the first. Adam Frazier led off by drilling his sixth home run to right, about a foot or so short of clearing the stands. The next batter, Hayes, launched his fourth career home run 429 feet to straightaway center. Hayes’ four bombs have come in 20 games; he hit ten last year in 110 AAA games in a year when longballs were wildly inflated in the International League.
After the first, the Pirates’ hitters took the rest of the day off. They did have a chance in the eighth when Frazier and Hayes both singled, but Frazier was called out at third after a replay review; he came up off the bag for a fraction of a second after beating the throw. On the day, the Pirates collected a whopping seven hits, their highest total in a week. J.T. “.136” Riddle, whom Derek Shelton started in left on purpose, contributed an 0-for-3.
Fortunately, the Pirates’ bullpen came through. Nik Turley, Chris Stratton and Richard Rodriguez each threw a scoreless inning. With Geoff Hartlieb and Sam Howard hitting some bumps, that seems to be the trusted trio now. Rodriguez fanned three in the ninth.
Unfortunately, the stupid, inept Rangers lost again. The Pirates’ Rocker Number remains three.