Gerrit Cole and Jose Fernandez lived up to the hype of this showdown to close out May on a Tuesday night from Marlins Park. Fernandez and the Marlins were better and picked up the victory 3-1 over the Pirates.
Rated a 7 NERD score by FanGraphs (the highest rated game of the night), it lived up to it through the first six innings as Fernandez and Cole traded zeros across the board. Fernandez cruised a little easy with strikeouts and only allowing three lousy singles through 7.0 innings of work. Cole had a little tougher go of it, pitching himself out of a couple jams. In the 3rd inning, Ichiro Suzuki recorded hit number 2,962 on his march to 3,000 and Realmuto doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. Cole buried down and got the next three outs, two on strikeouts, to keep the game scoreless.
In the 6th inning, the Marlins loaded the bases against Cole with one out. Cole was able to escape again with a soft liner to second and getting Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out to end the inning. Cole would not be able to escape the 7th inning, however, as Ichiro, Realmuto and Yelich hit three straight singles to score the game’s first run. Another run scored on Cole’s wild pitch that the Pirates challenged as Cole did a good job of almost getting the tag down at home plate. The umpires upheld the call and Cole was done for the night. The Marlins scored another run on Hughes that counted to Cole. He finished with 6.1 innings, nine hits, three runs and four strikeouts.
Cole battled, but it was Jose’s night. Fernandez went seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits (all singles), no walks and six strikeouts. The Pirates got nothing going on him all night, but they did have a chance for a comeback in the 9th inning. With Fernandez out of the game, the Pirates led the 9th inning off with a pinch hit walk from Matt Joyce. John Jaso followed it up with a single to left and McCutchen walked to load the bases with no outs against Marlins closer A.J. Ramos. Bases loaded, no outs and the man Gregory Polanco at the plate fresh off his grand slam the night before. This time, Polanco just missed Ramos’ offering and drove a ball to deep centerfield on the warning track where it was caught for a sacrifice fly. Joyce tagged and scored to make it 3-1. Jung Ho Kang then struck out looking and Starling Marte flied out to end the game.
The Pirates finish May 14-13 and sit at 29-22 after two months, good for second place in the NL Central. They begin June with two more games at Miami tonight and tomorrow and then return home to face the Angels, Mets and Cardinals with a makeup road game to Colorado sandwiched in between.