MIAMI – Prior to tonight’s game, Clint Hurdle said something about Jose Fernandez and his ability to dominate when his game is on.
“You’re not going to beat a good pitcher with his good stuff,” Hurdle said. “The best you can do is hope to get nothing. You get nothing, your guy gives up nothing, and you play until those guys come out.”
That statement turned out to be very prophetic. Tonight’s match-up featured Fernandez against Gerrit Cole, with two of the best young pitchers in baseball squaring off. Fernandez brought his good stuff, throwing seven shutout innings against a Pirates offense that ranks at or near the top of the National League in almost every big category.
“He had his stuff,” Hurdle said after the game. “Very unpredictable off the mound. Fastball plays big. We knew going in the first time through it was about a 70/30 split on hard and soft, and the first time through he went about 50/50. And then stayed that way. Very unpredictable throughout the game.”
The entire match-up was living up to the hype through six innings. Cole was matching Fernandez every step of the way, throwing six shutout innings. However, he got to the seventh and ran into trouble. Some of that wasn’t his fault, as he allowed a one out RBI single to Christian Yelich, right after missing what looked like a strike three pitch. Some of it was on him, as the next run came in on a wild pitch with a runner at third. Cole also got into a lot of jams throughout the night, so while he was shutting out the Marlins through six innings, he had to work to get there. It wasn’t enough in the seventh inning.
“There was a jam in the first, the third, the fifth, and the seventh that he worked his way out of,” Hurdle said. “I thought the pitch he made to Yelich, I thought he made a 1-2 fastball pitch down in the zone that was strike three, and we didn’t get the call. After that, you’ve got the make another pitch, and he wasn’t able to put him away.”
Cole also thought he made his pitch against Yelich, but ultimately felt he didn’t make enough pitches during the inning.
“I just didn’t make enough quality pitches,” Cole said. “The slider just got too much of the plate to Yelich there, and the wild pitch sucked.”
The Pirates did battle back in the ninth inning. Down 3-0, they loaded the bases against Marlins’ closer A.J. Ramos. Gregory Polanco came to the plate, fresh off his first grand slam last night. He almost got his second one tonight, hitting a ball to the warning track at the deepest part of the park. That brought in a run, which was the only run of the evening. Jung-ho Kang and Starling Marte couldn’t do any more damage, and the Pirates dropped the 3-1 contest.
“He started getting balls in the strike zone when we loaded the bases,” Hurdle said of Ramos. “Polanco battled, gave up a good at-bat. Squared a ball up, hit it to the deepest part of the park. Kang got ahead and Marte got ahead, but he came back and was able to make pitches to finish him off.”
The Pirates take on the Marlins tomorrow night, with Jon Niese taking on Adam Conley.
**Josh Harrison on what made Jose Fernandez so good tonight: “He had some good stuff. Tonight, coming into the game, you knew it was going to be one of those games from both teams that you feel like as the game goes on, the first one who scores is going to have the best chance to win it.”
**Cole on the match-up against Fernandez: “It’s fun to compete. It was a fun ballgame there for about six innings. Sometimes you hit certain leverage points in a game where stuff doesn’t go your way.”
**Hurdle on Fernandez’s breaking pitch and fastball combo, and how devastating that can be: “It’s almost like a wiffle ball breaking ball. And then he throws the fastball at 98, and you’ve got to guess to hit that. If you’ve got that in the back of your mind, and he’s throwing that thing for strikes — he threw JHay three in a row.”
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
The Pirates finished May with a 14-13 record. In 12 of those 27 games the Pirates scored 2 runs or less. In 8 other games in May they scored 8 or more runs. Although the batting slash lines look good, we lack consistency overall. Winning teams find ways to manufacture runs even against tough pitching.
I hope to see Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl shortly, and nothing that I have seen from the placeholders would keep me from promoting Josh Bell and putting him at 1B for the next 7 years.
Except they can field the position much better. Not to mention they have a combined .300 Ave, and a high OBP. Let him develop his defense.
Bell’s slash is .301/.395/.466/.861. Jaso fields what he gets to and is #17 of 29 1B in MLB. The factor that sticks out is that his Range Factor of 7.66 places him at #25 of 29. Admittedly, Bell has more errors, but has an RF of 9.50 in AAA, which means he has gotten to a lot more balls. If he carries that RF into the majors he would rank 4th of 29.
This is what we drafted the kid for, and it is no time to wait for perfection. He is already in his age 24 season and we need that bat to mature at the MLB level. There will always be a break-in period, and I prefer he gets his feet wet in 2016 rather than another year at AAA.
RF only tells you that he MAY have gotten to more balls. Not that he would have made the play. Jaso isnt costing us runs and is producing offensively, along with Freese. There is no guarantee Bell would produce as soon as you bring him up and he would be a defensive downgrade. This is no time to work on your fielding in MLB when you’re more than solid at the position and you have the luxury of working on it in the minors.
Cole is a really good pitcher, that I’m glad we have, but consistently gets beat by other team’s aces. He needs to make the next step if this time has any plans of going far in the playoffs.
I was going to say exactly the same thing. He’s looking like a strong #2 instead of an ace.
One step forward, one step backward. We need to win this series….Marlins don’t have Stanton or Gordon. ..
No doubt. Cole’s numbers outside of ERA are extremely weak. Against the Marlins without two of their best players he yields 9 hits, two walks and strikes out 4 over 6.1 innings. Locke thoroughly out pitched our ace just a day before. Cannot win consistently with this type of pitching.