The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St Louis Cardinals 7-1 in Game 2 of their NLDS matchup to even the series at one game each.
Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole made his first career playoff start on Friday, and he dominated a veteran lineup in St Louis. In his six innings of work, Cole allowed one run on two hits, striking out five and walking one. Aside from a Carlos Beltran first inning double and Yadier Molina fifth inning solo homer, Cole was untouchable. He threw just 86 pitches in his six innings of work, but 22 of those came in the sixth, leading to Clint Hurdle giving him the hook after the frame.
Lance Lynn wasn't sharp for the Cardinals by any stretch of the imagination. In 4 1/3 innings, Lynn threw 83 pitches, allowing five runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out six. But Lynn got himself in trouble in the second, third, and fifth innings, and that led to his undoing. In the second, Pedro Alvarez doubled with one out. After striking out Russell Martin, Lynn intentionally walked light-hitting shortstop Jordy Mercer to bring up Cole, and the pitcher made him pay for the walk, singling up the middle to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Lynn then hit Starling Marte before getting a ground out from Neil Walker to end the inning. In the third, Lynn sandwiched a pair of outs around a Justin Morneau single, but promptly allowed a two-run homer to Alvarez to make it 3-0.
A 3-0 lead through four isn't insurmountable, but the Pirates tacked on some more in the fifth and sent Lynn to the showers. Morneau and Marlon Byrd hit back to back doubles with one out to make it 4-0, and Lynn was pulled after walking Alvarez. With two on and one out, Seth Maness allowed an RBI single to Martin to make it 5-0. With the way Cole was dealing, that *would* be an insurmountable level, even after he allowed a solo homer to Molina in the bottom half of that inning. Pittsburgh added runs in the seventh and eighth, giving their bullpen a nice cushion to work with.
Speaking of that Pirates bullpen, Hurdle used his usual late game trio of Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli in the final three innings. Watson struggled, allowing a walk and a single in a scoreless seventh, but Melancon and Grilli dominated. Melancon threw just seven pitches in a perfect eighth, while Grilli struck out the side while allowing a double off the glove of Andrew McCutchen in the ninth.
Pittsburgh's big difference marker on offense remains Alvarez, who went 2/4 with two runs, two RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer in the win. Midseason pickups Morneau and Byrd each tallied a double and scored two runs hitting in front of Alvarez. Meanwhile for the Cardinals, their top three hitters of Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, and Matt Holliday combined to go 1/11 with a walk and four strikeouts. If they made more of a difference in the game, maybe Adams' two hits or Molina's homer carries more weight.
Game 3 will take place on Sunday at 4:37 PM on TBS in Pittsburgh. Joe Kelly starts for the Cardinals against Pirates ace Francisco Liriano.