The Pirates managed the rare feat of scoring 11 runs, breaking a long losing streak and still making themselves the butt of jokes. They nearly blew a ten-run lead against Cleveland, but barely hung on for an 11-10 win. That broke their ten-game losing streak.
Everything seemed wonderful for quite a while. The Pirates jumped all over Cleveland’s rookie starter, J.C. Mejia, for five runs in the first. They loaded the bases with nobody out, then Colin Moran drove in a run with a ground out. Jacob Stallings followed with a two-run double and Gregory Polanco ripped his seventh home run of the year into the seats in right. Bryan Reynolds added a sixth run in the third with his 11th home run.
Chad Kuhl had his best start of the season, with the help of four double plays. In every inning from the second through the fourth, the leadoff hitter reached and Kuhl then induced a ground ball double play. He faced the minimum until the first two hitters reached in the sixth. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Kuhl almost got out of it on a line drive double play, but a Cesar Hernandez single drove in a run.
The Pirates added another five-run inning in the top of the sixth, as Cleveland reliever Kyle Nelson couldn’t throw strikes. He walked Phillip Evans with the bases loaded, then hit Adam Frazier. Ke’Bryan Hayes followed with a three-run double to make it 11-1.
And then Derek Shelton got involved. Evans had hit for Kuhl, who’d thrown only 77 pitches, and Shelton went to Sam Howard. He had little from the start. He managed to get two outs, one on a line out, but gave up three hits and two walks. That left the bases loaded with two runs in. Howard’s been effective most of the time in very short outings. At that point, he’d thrown 32 pitches, so of course Shelton left him in and he gave up a grand slam to Hernandez. That left the score 11-7.
David Bednar got the last out in the seventh, but he was due up and you have to hit for the pitcher, except when you don’t. Shelton hit for Bednar and, mechanically as ever, went with Kyle Crick because he’s the eighth inning guy. Crick’s been very wild since he came back from the IL and nothing changed today. He loaded the bases with two out on a single and two hit batsmen. Shelton then went to Clay Holmes, who’s consistently struggled lately, and Holmes gave up a two-run single, with a third run scoring on an error by Reynolds. That made it 11-10.
In the ninth, Richard Rodriguez didn’t make it easy. He gave up two hits, but struck out Bobby Bradley (no, not him) to end the game with runners on second and third. That earned him his eighth save.