Rox pounded by Pirates
Hurdle returns to Coors Field, guides Pittsburgh to 13-5 rout of his former team in series opener
Early Friday afternoon within the concrete walls of the visitors’ clubhouse at Coors Field, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle huddled his starting pitching staff together for a confab. Hurdle knows up close, from his eight seasons as Rockies skipper, the exhausting power of the LoDo ballpark.
“Just take your ERA, put it in your back pocket and check it a week from now,” he told them. “If you get dinged or doinked, hey, keep going because your offense has a chance to pick things up.”
The Rockies, just as Hurdle cautioned, dinged wide-eyed Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Trevor Williams on Friday night for three runs in the first inning. He survived. And the Pirates punched back, doinking Colorado and its two-pitcher piggyback for a 13-5 victory in front of 41,192 fans.
Rookie pitcher Jeff Hoffman endured just three high-volume innings for the Rockies. Long man Jordan Lyles suffered through the next three. And Pittsburgh star Andrew McCuthen tore his way to a 3-for-4 night with three runs scored and three RBIs in a lopsided start to a three-game weekend series. He was followed by cleanup hitter Josh Bell, who had his first career four-hit game.
In his introductory visit to Coors Field, Williams doubled the distance of Hoffman, slaloming through 6M innings of level-headed pitching. More impressively, he cold-stopped a Rockies offense that had scored 49 runs in four days, all victories. He gave up five runs, but on an elevated sliding scale, Hurdle will take it.
And the red-hot Pirates (49-48), who reached .500 on Thursday for the first time since April 16, won a sixth consecutive game and a ninth in their last 10.
“Oh, my goodness. Good pitching beats good hitting every day,” Hurdle said. “But if you don’t pitch well here, you get clobbered.”
That is what happened to Hoffman. Starling Marte’s leadoff single to open the game was not an impressive display of hitting, but after McCutchen walked, Josh Bell and David Freese singled in two runs. The Rockies volleyed
with three runs in the first, on a DJ LeMahieu double and run-scoring singles from Nolan Arenado, Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez.
But as Williams blanked the Rockies through the next four frames, the Pirates put up three runs in the second, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth, capped by Jordy Mercer’s 444-foot, two-run homer off Lyles to left field. The Bucs were up 10-3 at that point.
“There are rewards all over this park,” Hurdle said. “It’s not like you have to bang it right down the line to cover and carry. You can hit a ball out of this park from line to line.”
Hoffman’s issues covered simple command. He walked four batters in three innings, well above his season average of 2½ freebies per nine innings. And they were poorly timed. After he whiffed Mercer with a fish-hook curveball in the second, Hoffman then walked Williams at the bottom of the order and hit Marte with a pitch on the top side. Those sins cost him when Josh Bell doubled them to the plate. Colorado manager Bud Black yanked him after 82 pitches.
Lyles’ three innings included just four hits allowed. But one was a leadoff double to Josh Harrison in the fourth (he later scored) and Mercer’s bases-clearing blast in the sixth. He did not walk anybody, at least.
Arenado slammed a solo homer to left in the sixth off Williams, but LeMahieu before him and Parra and Ian Desmond after, failed to reach base. And the Rockies (56-42) lost a third game in four against the Pirates this season.
“It’s a different game here,” Hurdle said.
Rockies pitcher Jeff Hoffman struggled through three innings during his start against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on Friday night, allowing seven runs and nine hits.
Rockies catcher Tony Wolters is tagged out by Pirates third baseman David Freese. Freese drove in a pair of runs during Friday night’s offensive battle at Coors Field. The game was the first of a three-game set between the Pirates and Rockies.