Cole, reserve Harrison help Pirates salvage a split against Yankees
NEW YORK — Josh Harrison contributed to the Pirates' gaffe-filled afternoon Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
Then he redeemed himself.
In the fifth inning, the Pirates' utility player rounded second base too aggressively, slipped and was tagged out trying to scramble back to the base, ending a scoring opportunity and adding to the Pirates' base-running errors in the series.
But in the seventh, Harrison launched the go-ahead home run to left field, and in the eighth he preserved the lead, a 5-3 Pirates' win and doubleheader split with one of the best catches of the season. Harrison dove fully extended on the left-field warning track to rob Yangervis Solarte of a potential game-tying hit with Derek Jeter on first base.
Harrison said his experience in the infield helped him make the catch in left field, where he replaced Starling Marte, who left the game with hamstring tightness.
“Looking in the dugout (the coaches) shaded me over a little bit and happened to put me in the right position,” Harrison said. “As infielders we (fully extend) a lot. It's not a sense or a feeling that's different for me. … When you've been out there, you kind of know if you're going to go full extension and have a chance.”
Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “That was probably the biggest catch we've had here in a while.”
The Pirates had not won a game in the Bronx since Game 5 of the 1960 World Series and were hoping to salvage something after starting pitcher Charlie Morton again suffered from the one-bad-inning syndrome in Game 1, a 4-3 Yankees victory. Harrison was not the only Pirate able to redeem himself in the second game of the doubleheader.
Making his third straight start since being eased back into the lineup following a back strain, Marte's day spanned the baseball spectrum.
In Game 1, Marte went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. He saw 17 pitches and swung and missed at eight. He often chased out of the zone against Hiroki Kuroda's splitter.
Marte stranded three runners of the 10 Pirates left on base in the Game 1 loss.
In Game 2, Marte gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning with a two-run shot to right field, his second home run of the series.
“We always talk about flushing it and moving on,” Hurdle said. “And that's what everyone did all day long.”
Jordy Mercer led off the ninth inning of Game 2 with a double and later scored an insurance run on a Chris Stewart sacrifice fly. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Lost amid Pirates' redemptive performance, injuries, errors in the field and gaffes on the bases was a quality start by Gerrit Cole.
Cole allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks over six innings.
The right-hander used an effective changeup against the Yankees, a pitch he began to have success with in his last start in Milwaukee.
Cole got Mark Teixeira to swing and miss at a changeup in the first. In the second, Ichiro Suzuki swung and missed at another diving Cole changeup for one of right-hander's eight strikeouts.
“I threw some good ones,” Cole said. “I found some spots to use them since they had all lefties.”
The pitch potentially gives Cole yet another plus offering to go with his fastball that reached 98 mph Sunday and curveball.
“He has a great mentality,” Hurdle said of Cole. “He pitched inside as well as anyone we've had all year.”
Cole (4-3) has four of the five wins produced by Pirates starting pitchers, who are a combined 5-18 this season. Morton fell to 0-6 after another big inning did him in. In six of his nine starts this season, Morton has allowed at least three runs in an inning. The forgettable inning came in the first Sunday, when Morton allowed the first five Yankees to reach as three runs scored.