The Pirates got an outstanding spot start from Miguel Yajure and some strong relief pitching, but until the very end it looked like their clown show of a lineup was going to throw it away. The one guy who wasn’t on script was Adam Frazier. He went 4-for-5 and either scored or drove in all the runs as the Pirates beat San Francisco in 11 innings, 3-2.
Yajure went five innings on just 57 pitches. He gave up just one hit, a ground ball single by his mound opponent, Kevin Gausman. Yajure walked one and fanned four, and didn’t let a runner get past first.
Why exactly Yajure couldn’t throw more than 57 pitches isn’t clear — he threw 92 five days ago for Indianapolis — but the bullpen mostly picked up where he left off. Sam Howard struck out the side in the sixth and David Bednar fanned two in a ten-pitch ninth. In between, Duane Underwood, Jr., threw two innings, but after a good seventh he gave up a leadoff home run in the eighth to Brandon Crawford. Underwood just seems to be the designated guy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Crawford’s homer put the Giants ahead, 1-0, because the Pirates’ offense was doing its best imitation of the Pirates’ offense. Through eight innings against Gausman, they had three hits, no walks and a dozen whiffs. And, yes, Gausman is good, but everybody pitches like that against the Pirates.
The fifth inning aptly illustrated the Pirates’ futility. Gregory Polanco led off with a double, but Ka’ai Tom, Wilmer Difo and Michael Perez all struck out.
In the ninth, though, Frazier led off with his third hit and Kevin Newman singled him to second. That finished Gausman in favor of Jake McGee. Bryan Reynolds greeted him with a grounder through the right side, tying the game. That gave the Pirates three chances to end it, but McGee needed only ten pitches to strike out Will Craig, Polanco and Erik Gonzalez.
Richard Rodriguez stranded the free runner in the top of the tenth. In the bottom half, Difo, after twice failing to bunt, got the runner to third with a grounder. But Perez and Jacob Stallings both struck out, running the Pirates’ total for the game to 17.
Luis Oviedo came in for the 11th and didn’t do badly, despite some control problems. A fly ball put the free runner on third and then Austin Slater hit a weak bloop over second that would have been caught if the infield hadn’t been drawn in.
Fortunately for the Pirates, Frazier was back up for the bottom of the 11th. He tripled off the Clemente Wall to tie the game. After Newman popped up, the Giants walked the bases loaded for Polanco, who hit a long fly to center, scoring Frazier easily.
Oviedo got his first major league win. Judging from Ben Cherington’s and Derek Shelton’s comments, Yajure will head back to the minors and return later for more spot starts.