After bringing in Felipe Vazquez with his team trailing by two in the eighth inning Dede Westbrook Jersey , Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked by bench coach Tom Prince whether the closer would stay in the game if his turn to bat came up in the ninth.
”At the time, I counted off and said this is what the lead will be and I still think he’s our best option to close,” Hurdle joked. ”We would be in a good spot if we can get Vazquez up to the plate.”
As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened.
David Freese hit a go-ahead, two-run single and Pittsburgh rallied for four runs in the ninth to beat the New York Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night.
Gregory Polanco had an RBI single and Josh Bell added a sacrifice fly as the Pirates, blanked by Zack Wheeler for seven innings, came back against a beleaguered New York bullpen to win for the second time in eight games. Pittsburgh took two of three against the Mets to win a road series for the first time since sweeping the Chicago White Sox from May 8-9.
”This one very easily could have gotten away from us,” Hurdle said. ”It could have been another series loss. They found a way to put a foot down and make something really positive happen.”
Elias Diaz got it started with a leadoff single on an 0-2 pitch from closer Jeurys Familia (3-4). Corey Dickerson also singled on 0-2, sending Diaz to third. Polanco drove in Diaz with a single for the Pirates’ third straight two-strike hit.
Familia, who threw 28 pitches in a scoreless outing Tuesday, was lifted after walking Jordy Mercer on four pitches to load the bases. It was the first time in his career that Familia took the mound and failed to get an out.
Freese punched Anthony Swarzak’s first pitch into right-center, giving Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead.
”I had a good approach and got a pitch that I thought I could get in the air and it fell in,” said Freese, who entered with Vazquez as part of a double switch in the eighth.
Bell’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3, and the Pirates completed their 17th comeback win of the season.
”It’s probably the toughest spot in our business with the game on the line,” said Swarzak, summoned with the bases loaded and nobody out. ”I didn’t execute on that first pitch and the team paid the price.”
Wilmer Flores homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits for New York, which has dropped eight of nine. Mets relievers have 21 losses Taven Bryan Jersey , most in the majors.
One night after snapping a seven-game skid, the Mets (32-46) finished a 1-5 homestand by losing for the 15th time in their last 17 games at Citi Field. They have dropped 25 of 32 overall and gone 11 consecutive series without winning one.
The loss was New York’s sixth when leading after seven innings, tied for second-most in the majors.
Vazquez (3-2) threw two scoreless innings for the win. He also struck out on three pitches in his second major league at-bat, fouling off the first two offerings.
A dominant Wheeler scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 26 batters he faced. But after his bullpen blew a 3-0 lead, the right-hander is 0-5 in 11 starts since his last win April 29 at San Diego.
”I saw really good pitching on the other side early,” Hurdle said. ”(Wheeler) kept pumping strikes.”
Pittsburgh broke through in the eighth against Robert Gsellman. Starling Marte led off with a pinch-hit double, stole his third base of the series and scored on Austin Meadows‘ sacrifice fly.
Bell singled to chase Gsellman, but rookie Tim Peterson got out of the inning.
Jose Bautista hit an RBI double in the third and scored on Cabrera’s single to put the Mets in front 2-0. Flores added a solo homer in the sixth off starter Ivan Nova.
Flores had seven RBIs in the series and has driven in a run in five straight games.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (finger) threw a bullpen Tuesday and looked good, according to manager Mickey Callaway. Syndergaard threw all his pitches and will progress to facing hitters. … Callaway said outfielders Jay Bruce (hip) and Yoenis Cespedes (hip flexor) are both day to day with soreness and the team is waiting for that to subside before increasing their activity. Cespedes is expected to meet with the coaching staff during the upcoming trip to Miami. … OF Brandon Nimmo went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his return to the top of the lineup. Nimmo came off the bench in the previous two games after getting hit by a pitch on the right pinkie Sunday.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli (concussion) was cleared to resume exercising and went through a 45-minute workout in Pittsburgh. … RHP Michael Feliz (shoulder) remains isn’t throwing yet but is expected to play catch in the coming days. … After being removed from Tuesday’s game with right forearm discomfort, RHP Chad Kuhl underwent a series of tests and an update is expected in the next day or two.
Mets: Begin a three-game series at Miami on Friday. RHP Jacob deGrom (5-3, major league-low 1.69 ERA) pitches for New York, while the Marlins will call up highly regarded prospect Sandy Alcantara from Triple-A New Orleans to make his 2018 debut.
Pirates: Open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. Struggling RHP Joe Musgrove (2-3, 4.59 ERA) draws the start in his hometown.
NEW YORK — Greg Bird was rehabbing a right ankle injury for the first six meetings between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
He carried a .191 average and several frustrating at-bats into Friday’s series opener. Then he slugged two homers and possibly gave the Yankees something to think about with the first baseman’s playing time against left-handers Chris Sale and David Price and the final two games.
While Bird could get the game off, his New York temmates will get a crack at solving Sale on Saturday night in the second game of three-game series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.
Bird posted his second career multi-homer game and the Yankees opened the series by hitting four homers in an 8-1 rout on Friday. After homering twice, Bird is batting 204 (19-for-93) in 29 games since coming off the disabled list.
“Perhaps, I think about that a little bit,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It was really good to see Birdie impact the ball. I was happy for him and that’s something that can kind of jump-start him a little bit because what we believe he brings is that left-handed on-base, power guy in this ballpark.”
If Bird is in the lineup Blake Bortles Jersey , he will be getting his first career at-bats against Sale. If Bird is not in the lineup, it could be Brandon Drury or Neil Walker at first base.
Regardless if Bird plays, the Yankees were glad to see him homer to left-center field and right-center field against Eduardo Rodriguez in the fifth and Justin Haley in the eighth.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Yankees right-fielder Aaron Judge said of Bird. “It takes a lot of time to kind of get in that groove.”
Sale is 7-4 with a 2.56 ERA this season but rolling of late.
He is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts and in the last four starts has totaled 43 strikeouts in 28 innings while allowing a paltry .155 average.
Sale last pitched Sunday when he allowed four hits and struck out 13 in a 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners. Sale posted his second straight double-digit strikeout game, sixth this season and ended the outing by fanning Mike Zunino with a 100.5 mph fastball — the fastest pitch of his career.
This season as the Red Sox attempt to keep Sale fresh for the final months of the year, his velocity is steadily increasing. His average fastball was 92.5 in April, 95.6 in May and 97.0 this month.
“I think it’s just getting back into a little bit better rhythm,” Sale said of his increase in velocity. “I’ve been saying the same thing over the last three or four starts — it’s feeling good and getting into that tempo and getting back into a little bit better rhythm than I had been starting the year. I put a lot of work into it. I’m glad where we’re at.”
If Sale posts double-digit strikeouts Saturday, it will mark the fourth time he has at least 10 strikeouts in three straight games.
“A lot of people get caught up on strikeouts,” Sale said. “They’re nice, but at the end of the day your job is to pitch as deep into that game as you can and keep as few runs off the board (as possible).”
Sale enters the game with 153 strikeouts, two ahead of Houston’s Gerrit Cole for the league lead. He also is hoping to see his teammates produce a better offensive showing after losing for the second time in eight games.
The left-hander faced the Yankees on April 10 in a 14-1 win at Fenway Park. He is 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 16 appearances (13 starts) against the Yankees.
While Mookie Betts was 2-for-4 and had his 25th multi-hit game, J.D. Martinez was 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last nine at-bats.
New York will counter with Sonny Gray, who is 5-5 with a 4.93 ERA.
Gray is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in his last five starts since lasting 3 2/3 innings in an 11-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 26. His last outing was last Saturday in Tampa Bay when he allowed four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 4-0 loss.
Gray faced the Red Sox on April 12 in Boston when he allowed six runs and seven hits in a season-low three innings of a 6-3 loss. Since joining the Yankees, he is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox. For his career, Gray is 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA in seven games against Boston.