Facing off against Jon Lester and the Cubs on Sunday for their final game of the first half, the Pirates erupted for a 10-run first inning, bringing 15 batters to the plate and chasing the lefty before the end of the frame. That offensive outburst carried the Bucs to a 14-3 win in the rubber game at Wrigley Field.
"I couldn't even tell you. I couldn't even tell you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the last time he saw a 10-run first inning. "I don't know. I don't know if I ever have, truthfully."
The inning was punctuated by a pair of homers, with the first delivered by Francisco Cervelli. With his club already ahead, 5-0, Cervelli smashed an 87.9-mph cutter over the wall in left-center for his third career grand slam. The shot traveled an estimated 371 feet according to Statcast™ and left the bat with a 98.1-mph exit velocity.
"Yeah I didn't want to be out twice in one inning," Cervelli joked of the at-bat. "I've been trying just to feel more comfortable at the plate. Probably that at-bat, after pitch No. 6, that's when I start feeling [my] swing." Andrew McCutchen finished off the scoring one at-bat later, knocking a solo shot to left-center. Lester exited the outing having recorded just two outs on 53 pitches -- 10 more than any he'd thrown in a first inning since the start of 2008.
"We were really just trying to go out and score some runs," McCutchen said. "To be able to do that and do it against a guy like Lester was big for us."
Several Pirates had career days in the outing.
Cervelli tied a career high with five RBIs, Jose Osuna tied a career high with two runs scored and recorded his seventh career multi-RBI game. Josh Bell also became the second Pirates player with multiple hits in an inning this year, singling in a pair of plate appearances in the first.
Even more impressive, though, was the context of the outing.
For the Pirates, it was their first 10-run inning since scoring 10 times in the seventh inning on May 2009 vs. Colorado. Their last 10-run inning on the road came in the fifth inning on Aug. 20, 2003, against St. Louis, while their last 10-run first inning came on June 8, 1989, against Philadelphia.
It was also the first time the Cubs allowed at least 10 runs in the first inning in a game at Wrigley Field since allowing 10 to the Reds on Sept. 1, 1947.
But that wasn't what everyone cared about. Asked if he knew the last time the Pirates put up 10 runs in an inning, McCutchen made it clear he was less interested in the history lesson and more about the result.
"I could care less. All I care about is if we win," McCutchen said with a half-smile. "If it's one or 10, it doesn't matter to me."
Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Pirates on Sunday.