Pittsburgh Pirates fall late, lose to Royals 3-1


3. 7. Final. 1. 4

The Pittsburgh Pirates, after an offensive outburst in game one, fell stagnant in game two of this series against the Kansas City Royals by a score of 3-1. The game was a pitching duel, which lasted seven innings before a three-run eighth inning by the Royals did the Pirates in. It’ll be intriguing to see which Pirate offense shows up in game three.

Gerrit Cole started for the Pirates, but wasn’t able to earn his 14th win of the season, instead receiving his fourth loss of the year. Cole pitched 7.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out six. Cole had another 100-pitch outing, his sixth straight outing in which he’s thrown at least 100 pitches. His ERA barely moved, as it now sits at 2.31 for the year.

Cole was opposed by Jason Vargas, who was making his first start since June 8th after returning from the disabled list. Unfortunately for Vargas, he was only able to last 1.1 innings and left the game with left elbow discomfort. Veteran Joe Blanton replaced him, and proceeded to shut down the Pirate batters in his absence. Blanton lasted 3.2 innings, giving up no runs while striking out five. 4 Royal relievers combined to hold the Pirates to just one run the rest of the way.

The Pirates did manage eight hits, but stranded nine base-runners. Both Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco struck out in big situations late in the game. The game remained scoreless until the eighth inning, when an error by Neil Walker led to an outpouring of hits and runs from Kansas City. Jarrod Dyson singled with men on second and third, driving in two. Alcides Escobar then drove in Dyson, making the score 3-0. Arquimedes Caminero was brought in to relieve Cole, and did so without allowing a run.

The Pirates made things interesting in the ninth inning. Travis Ishikawa added another RBI this series with a single that scored Jung Ho Kang. Chris Stewart walked and Sean Rodriguez notched an infield single, loading the bases for Polanco. But Polanco struck out swinging, and the Royals walked away with a 3-1 victory.

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What Stood Out

The Pirates’ offense was shut down by a mediocre pitcher after an offensive outpouring in game one. There’s no reason the Pirates shouldn’t have been able to score off of Joe Blanton, except for the fact that they didn’t have same time to prepare for him as, essentially, the starter. This offense has holes that need to be addressed sooner rather than later, as the team now sits five games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

Cole had a great outing but was victimized by an error by Walker in the eighth. Kang had two hits and continues to show that he could be a future starting infielder for the Pirates. Rodriguez and Starling Marte also each had two hits.

What’s Next

The Pittsburgh Pirates (54-39) take on the Kansas City Royals (56-36) in the third and final game of the series at 8:10 PM on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium. Charlie Morton (6-3, 4.34 ERA) takes the hill for the Pirates, and he’s given up at least two earned runs in each of his last five starts after a fantastic start to his season. He will be opposed by former Pirate Edinson Volquez (8-5, 3.28 ERA), who is having another good season. The winner of this game will take the series.

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