We’ve been saying it for weeks and it finally looks like the Pirates are hitting their run thanks to a 5-1 West Coast road trip and a sweep of the Giants.
Giants starter Matt Cain is in the midst of an awful season (5.47 ERA), but he looked like 2009 Matt Cain through the first four innings as he cruised with just one hit allowed. With the Giants leading 4-0 and Cain cruising, it looked like another failed sweep for the Buccos, but suddenly everything changed in the 5th inning.
The inning began with Cain hitting Freese with a pitch, he then walked John Jason, Jordy Mercer and Eric Fryer for the Pirates first run of the game. Yes, three straight walks. Giants manager Bruce Bochy left Cain in as Hurdle made a good move and pinch hit for Ivan Nova with Matt Joyce. Joyce responded with a two-run single to make it 4-3. Josh Harrison hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. After Marte’s flyout, Andrew McCutchen continued his hot stretch with a blast to left center to make it 6-4. It’s McCutchen’s 17th home run this season.
After that, Locke, Nicasio and Rivero held down the fort to set the table for Tony Watson to close the door in the 9th inning. Watson struggled, walking the leadoff hitter, then two straight singles to load the bases with no outs. In the at-bat of the game, Watson got Buster Posey to ground into a huge double play that drove in one run to make it 6-5. And Watson got Brandon Crawford to fly out to Cutch for the final out.
Since becoming the team’s closer after the trade deadline, Watson has made nine appearances and give up four runs, including one blown save. Two of those outings were one-out saves, so overall Watson has given up four runs in 7.2 innings since August 2. I think that’s cause for concern. He has not adjusted to the closer’s role and today his body language looked completely uncomfortable. I wish Hurdle would give Neftali Feliz a chance to close a game out once in a while on games like today where it was Watson’s third straight appearance. Right now, Watson looks like the team’s third best reliever. Give Feliz a shot to close here and there.
The win was a huge one for the Bucs. They swept the Giants for their fourth straight win and five-out-of-six games and 7-out-of-10. The Pirates get a day off Thursday before a big homestand against Miami and Houston.