Andrew McCutchen may have grabbed all the headlines as the most prominent of former Pittsburgh Pirates on the San Francisco Giants roster, but on Saturday, it was reliever Tony Watson — who spent seven years with Pittsburgh — who got all the attention, and not in a good way.
After San Francisco tied the Pirates at 5-5 in the top of the eighth on a one-out Austin Jackson RBI double, Watson allowed a leadoff double to Josh Bell — a ball that zipped its way to McCutchen in right — and with one out, walked catcher Francisco Cervelli.
David Freese sent a hard chopper to third, and as Evan Longoria fielded the ball outside the line, and tried to tag out Bell, the Pirates’ first baseman circled inside back to the bag and around Longoria, out of his reach. Longoria had to eat the ball, loading the bases and bringing up a familiar face for Watson.
Jordy Mercer — drafted a year after Watson — played with Watson at Double-A Altoona in 2010, then joined Watson with the Pirates in 2012. On the second pitch Mercer’s at-bat, Watson plunked him with a 93-mph sinker, bringing home what would be the winning run in a 6-5 affair at PNC Park.
The Giants (19-21) have now lost six games in a row, and may have lost another player to injury, as well. Jackson’s RBI double in the eighth brought home Hanson, but he struggled rounding third, limping as he crossed home. Hanson, himself, is a replacement for the injured Joe Panik.
At the very least did not continue their string of five straight games with 10 or more strikeouts, fanning only eight times against four Pirates pitchers.
The struggling San Francisco offense — which was hitting .211 over the last five games — banged out 10 hits, and matched the Pirates run-for-run through the first five innings, with a pair of home runs by Longoria and Alen Hanson in the second equalling a sacrifice fly and RBI single in the bottom of the first.
The Giants eked ahead with a bases-loaded, one-out Brandon Crawford sacrifice fly, which cashed in a leadoff double by McCutchen in the third.
In the bottom of the frame, though, Jeff Samardzija surrendered a solo shot to Gregory Polanco (his eighth) to right center. A sixth-inning two-run homer from Cervelli gave the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
Samardzija — pitching into the sixth for the first time in five starts back from a pectoral injury — could have been out of the inning with a 3-3 tie, but a mental lapse on his part opened the door for the Pirates.
With one out, Bell hit a liner off of Brandon Belt’s glove behind the bag at first, and Samardzija did not move to cover the bag, so even when Belt collected himself, there was nobody to throw to.
Two batters later, Cervelli homered.
Samardzija had to wait 93 minutes for the game to start, due to rain, and threw 25 pitches in the first inning.Alen HansonAndrew McCutchenBrandon CrawfordEvan LongoriaJeff SamardzijaMLBPittsburgh PiratesSan Francisco Giants