Bullpen Comes Through In Win Over Cubs

Coming into this season, the bullpen was looked at as one of if not the strength of the 2017 Pirates.

Up until today, that bullpen has underachieved, the latest being yesterday’s 8th inning blown lead at Fenway Park.

Less than 24 hours later, the Bucs bullpen was challenged again and unlike yesterday, they were able to answer the bell to close out a Gerrit Cole win.

Considering the circumstances, Cole pitched a really solid game today. The right-handed picked up his 1st win of the season going six innings, allowing six hits and only two earned runs.

With the win, Cole raised his career record at Wrigley Field to 7-1.

Due to a worn out bullpen, Clint Hurdle stretched out Cole’s start today. The 114 pitches, were the second highest total in his career (threw 116 pitches in 2015). Also, Coles 114 pitches tied Madison Bumgarner and Chris Archer for the most in a MLB start this season.

Coles effort would’ve been wasted if not for the three inning effort of Wade LeBlanc, Felipe Rivero and Tony Watson.

Instead of using Rivero or Daniel Hudson in the seventh, Hurdle decided to go with LeBlanc. The left-hander pitched a quick 13-pitch inning.

This effort comes after a 5.1 inning, 1 run outing vs. the Cincinnati Reds. More games like this might make Hurdle think about using LeBlanc in more critical situations.

Rivero followed up LeBlanc and had anything but an easy outing.

After loading the bases by walking Kris Bryant, hitting Anthony Rizzo and a 2-out infield hit by Jason Heyward, Rivero got Jose Contreras to ground out to third base.

Then closer Tony Watson came on for the save in the ninth but as usual, things didn’t go smoothly.

After two outs, Kyle Schwarber walked, Bryant reached on a Freese error and for the second time today, Rizzo was hit by a pitch.

However with 2 on and 2 outs, Ben Zobrist grounded out to shortstop and the Pirates picked up their first NL Central and road win of the season.

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