Eleven different Giants had a hit Tuesday night at PNC Park. You can bet all 11 of them avoided Madison Bumgarner on the bus ride back to the hotel.
A night after the Giants lost 1-0 despite Bumgarner’s complete game, they smacked 22 hits and crushed the Pirates, 15-4. The offensive outburst was the biggest since a 15-2 blowout in Philadelphia last July.
The explosion started when Brandon Crawford once again came to the plate at PNC Park with the bases loaded. This time, Crawford didn’t hit the grand slam — he simply set it up.
Crawford’s 11-pitch walk in the fourth finally got the Giants on the board in Pittsburgh and Angel Pagan followed by hitting a reeling and worn-down starter’s next pitch for a grand slam. The sequence was part of a seven-run inning for the Giants, their biggest of the season.
The Giants hit around before making an out in the big frame. A single, double and walk loaded the bases for Crawford, who famously hit a grand slam in the Wild Card Game at PNC Park two years ago. Crawford fouled off seven pitches from rookie Wilfredo Boscan before taking his base and pushing a run across.
The next pitch was a low fastball and Pagan jumped on it, crushing a grand slam into the seats in right-center. After a Gregor Blanco bloop double, Conor Gillaspie skied a two-run shot to the last row of the right field bleachers. Gillaspie was making his first start in place of the injured Matt Duffy.
The Giants kept pouring on, scoring a run in each of the next three innings and then five in the eighth. Gillaspie had four hits and drove in four runs and Gregor Blanco reached base five times, giving the banged-up Giants a potent attack at the bottom of the order.
By the end, the Pirates put backup catcher Erik Kratz on the mound. He struck out Brandon Belt and got Mac Williamson to ground out. With two on, Blanco flied out to end a scoreless inning.
Starting pitching report: Cueto entered with a 10-2 record and 1.91 ERA in 16 career starts at PNC Park. This one was more of the same. He allowed one run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. For an inning, Cueto was one of five MLB starters (Bumgarner is also one) with an ERA under 2.00, but he gave up a run in the seventh, pushing it back to 2.06. Which is still good.
Bullpen report: Javier Lopez continues to search for his old self. He walked two lefties when he came on for Cueto in the seventh, and only a couple of gift strike calls from the home plate ump prevented a third walk. Lopez walked just seven lefties all of last season. He already has walked seven this season.
At the plate: Pagan’s slam was his first as a Giant. His only previous grand slam came August 1, 2009, when he was a New York Met.
In the field: Gregor Blanco made a sliding catch in the seventh to keep a run off Cueto’s line and at least one off Lopez’s line.
Up next: Jeff Samardzija tries to keep the good run going. He allowed one run in a complete game win in Tampa Bay last week.