It was another less than stellar performance by the Pirates bats in a series opening 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros. It’s become a recurring theme this month, but once again the pitching wasn’t the problem.
First, the good news—Jameson Taillon is looking really good. Taillon was efficient last night, tossing 8.0 innings with just four hits allowed, two runs, one walk and a career-high eight strikeouts. He did this all on 99 pitches (63 strikes). Taillon dropped his ERA to 2.92 on the season and deserved to get a win, but thanks to the punchless “disappear at times” offense, Taillon takes the loss instead.
Taillon’s only hiccup was to start the 5th inning when he allowed his only walk of the game to A.J. Reed and then Teoscar Hernandez took him deep for this third home run of the season. It wasn’t the big bats of Springer, Bregman, Altuve or Correa that hurt Taillon as he did very well against the ‘Stros young lineup.
Astros starter Doug Fister kept the Pirates off balanced all night as he fired 7.0 innings of just three hits, one walk while striking out six batters. This isn’t new for the bats the last couple games. In the past three games, the Pirates have just four runs, are 14-for-91 and hitting .154/.196/.220. That’s ugly. And in another concerning stat, Starling Marte is hitless in his last 12 at-bats, and 3-for-21 in his last five games. Marte going into a slump is very bad news for the Buccos as they sit 3.5 games out of that second wildcard spot.
Josh Bell made his second start at first base and showed why his defensive at the position was a major concern for the Pirates brass. Bell made his first fielding error and continues to not only look awkward playing first base, but doesn’t look very good over there. He ripped a two-out double in the bottom of the 7th inning, but Cervelli flied out to end the threat.
The Pirates had a chance in the bottom of the 9th inning as Gregory Polanco hit a two-out double of his own. David Freese came up and singled him home to make it 3-1, but Freese inexplicably decided to go to second base and was promptly thrown out to end the game. It would have been fun to see Bell get to bat with a chance to tie it, but it was not to be.
The Pirates and Astros meet again at 7:05PM with RHP Ivan Nova facing rookie RHP Joe Musgrove in game two of their series tonight at PNC Park.