Bad/Good Worley appears as Pirates lose to Braves late


Aug 24, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher

Vance Worley

(46) gets ready to pitch in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Worley pitched 6 plus innings giving up 4 runs and was charged with the lost as the Brewers beat the Pirates 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Today was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bobble-head giveaway day at McKechnie Field, in honor of starter Vance Worley’s performance.

Things were rocky out of the gate for Worley, who allowed four straight singles to start the game. Thereafter, back-to-back RBI groundouts started the scoring for the Braves. Chris Johnson landed the final gut punch in the inning by hitting a two run home run over the left field wall.

Despite taking a liner of his right foot, Worley recovered admirably in the second. He retired 15 of the next 17 batters he faced, including a stretch of 13 straight outs in which no balls reached the outfield.

Overall, Worley allowed five runs on seven hits and collected six K’s in six innings of work. After the game, he told reporters that he focused on attacking the inside of the plate early in the contest, but found greater success when he began working away.

The Pirates quickly began chipping away to add a bit of drama. Third baseman Josh Harrison blasted a leadoff home run over the left field wall off Braves starter Wandy Rodriguez to start the Buc’s ill-fated comeback. The freshly buzzed Andrew McCutchen knocked in Neil Walker with an RBI single in the third.

In the fourth inning, shortstop Jordy Mercer scored on catcher Francisco Cervelli‘s double. Walker led off the fifth with a blast to left, bringing the Bus to within one, 5-4.

Rodriguez, the one-time Pirate now hoping to earn a spot in the Braves rotation, allowed 4 runs on eight hits and three K’s.

Gorkys Hernandez scored the Pirates’ fifth, and tying, run after scoring off a Josh Outman (great name for a pitcher) wild pitch in the eighth. However, a chance to take the lead was squandered after Starling Marte was tagged out in a run-down while trying to score on a Pedro Alvarez groundball. Cervelli was then called out on a bang-bang play at first to end the Pirates’ threat.

The Braves broke the tie in the top half of the ninth after Jonny Gomes led off with a home run off lefty Clayton Richard. Jesus Flores singled in Chris Johnson to give the Braves a 7-5, which would stand.

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What Stood Out:

Vance Worley’s night and day performance, for one.

The Pirates coaching staff are known to preach working batters inside. However, Worley admitted that his success today came from working the outside corner. Although it’s encouraging that Worley was able to make the necessary in-game adjustment, perhaps it’s also a bit concerning that Atlanta was able to jump all over the tight ones.

After today’s game, both Worley apologists and dissenters can make a solid case concerning whether or not The Vanimal should be the fifth starter.

Otherwise, one bad inning was the Pirates undoing today. There is not much to dislike whenever the Pirates claw their way out a deep early hole. Home runs from Walker and Harrison, and knowing a healthy Cutch was in action, helps soothe the burn.

What’s Next:

The pitcher widely considered in contention with Worley for the fifth starter role, left-hander Jeff Locke, starts tomorrow as the Bucs travel to Hammond Field to battle the Minnesota Twins. Relievers Antonio Bastardo and John Holdzkom will also take the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 ET.