Last night, the Pirates tried to shake off the bad juju from getting swept in the Cubs series. However, it seemed as if they ‘tried’ a little too hard to shake it and ended losing 1-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers.With this loss and the loss to every other N.L. Wild Card team yesterday, the Buccos remain 2 1/2 games out of the Wild Card.
Though neither team blew the cover off the ball yesterday, the box score tells you that the Pirates appeared to be the better team last night. If you were watching it, you also felt as if the Pirates should have been playing with a lead for most of the game, but they did not. Base running mistakes and a costly error enabled the Brewers to steal a game in PNC that could have increased the Pirates chances at making the post season.
The Pirates only allowed Brewers starter Junior Guerra to last 3.1 innings on 70 pitches. Guerra only threw 37 of those for strikes and allowed five hits and two walks in that span. However, the Pirates were unable to capitalize in any of these innings.
The most relevant inning that left its mark was in the 4th. Starling Marte opened the inning stretching a single to most players into an easy double. The second batter, David Freese, walked to give the Pirates two men on with no outs. Francisco Cervelli went down swinging and the Brewers then replaced the struggling Guerra with Jacob Barnes.
Jordy Mercer, who had a tremendous at bat against Aroldis Chapman Wednesday night was unable to get enough of the ball as he flied out to right field. Now, with two men on and two outs, the Pirates decided against pinch hitting for Jameson Taillon and he struck out swinging to end the inning.
I don’t have a major issue with leaving Taillon in the game for this at bat. It was an opportunity squandered, but Taillon was dealing last night. Also, it was still just halfway through the game and the score was tied at zero with the Brewers pen pitching the rest of the game.
Speaking of Taillon, he pitched five very strong innings and was touched in the 6th. Martin Maldonado lead off in the 6th and was hit by a pitch form Taillon. Jameson continued to pitch well inducing a ground out to Jake Elmore and then a fly out to Jonathan Villar, though it did allow Maldonado to tag to third. With Scooter Gennett up to the plate, he took a 2-1 pitch to center field that was just out of reach for Andrew McCutchen to catch. Gennett’s double scored Maldonado for the game winning and only run of the game.
Taillon lasted only six innings, but it was another impressive outing for the rookie pitcher. In those six innings, he allowed just three hits while striking out four. For the fifth time this season he didn’t allow a walk and now owns a 3.7% walk rate, which is good for third in MLB among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched. In those six innings, he threw just 76 pitches, which is something we expect to see a lot as the Pirates find ways to manage Taillon’s innings and pitch counts. He now owns a season ERA of 3.25 which ranks third among rookie starting pitchers with at least 50 innings.
The Pirates continued to struggle at the plate with the Brewers pen in the game and had an opportune moment to at least tie it up in the bottom of the 8th. With Corey Knebel pitching, Josh Harrison singled to right field with no outs. Thanks to a throwing error by Knebel on the pickoff attempt, Harrison was able to run freely to second. The problem is, Harrison did not stop. With the assistance from third base coach Rick Scofield, Harrison tried to take third base as well as was throw out by a marvelous throw from Hernan Perez.
Sure, the only way possible to get Harrison out there was by a perfect throw, but with nobody out and already being in scoring position by stopping at second base what is the reasoning behind taking that risk? With J Hay’s speed, a single should easily draw him home. Instead, he makes the first out of the innings trying to reach third and the Buccos were unable to capitalize on the Brewers mistake.
Even in this loss, there were a few standout performances besides the obvious Jameson Taillon. Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 4 with a double that was literally a foot short of becoming a home run to left field. Starling Marte went 2 for 4 with a double, but was also caught stealing on an aggressive attempt of making something even more from his bunt hit. Felipe Rivero, Antonio Bastardo, and Juan Nicasio each pitched an inning a piece while combining for four strikeouts and no hits.
The Pirates will face the Brewers again today at PNC Park. The game is set to be at 7:05, unless anymore bridges set ablaze closer to the park. Ivan Nova will get the call for his sixth start with the Pirates and face Jimmy Nelson.