Pittsburgh Pirates fall to Royals 5-1, Morton struggles again


1. 4. 5. 7. Final

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost the third and finale game of a three-game series against the Kansa City Royals by a score of 5-1 on Wednesday night. The Pirate offense was stagnant again and Charlie Morton struggled, both of which have been themes for this team as of late. The Pirates are now 1-5 since the All-Star break and sit six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central after closing the gap to 2.5 games heading into the break.

Charlie Morton was on the mound for the Pirates and pitched well for most of the game, but a big seventh inning for the Royals did him in. When all was said and done, Morton lasted 6.2 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out four. His pitch count wasn’t too high, though, as it sat at 95 pitches when he exited. Morton was opposed by former Pirate Edinson Volquez on the mound, who is having another good year, and who managed to subdue the Pirate offense. Volquez pitched 7.2 innings of one-run ball, giving up eight hits and one walk while striking out eight. His ERA now sits at 3.15 for the year.

The Pirates managed to get guys on base early, but continue to struggle when those runners are on base. The team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position and left two men on with less than two outs in each of the second, third, and fourth innings. They did strike first, however, when Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly that brought in Jaff Decker from third base. But Eric Hosmer would tie the game in the fourth with a solo shot to right field. The Royals would then pounce on Morton in the seventh when a bunt single by Jarrod Dyson brought in Omar Infante from third. What put the game away was a Mike Moustakas three-run home run that was sent over the right field wall, giving the Royals a 5-1 lead. Even though the Pirates managed to get two men on in the eighth, they wouldn’t score again as the Royals would win 5-1.

What Stood Out

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Injuries are finally catching up to the Pirates, and the effect can be seen in the lack of offensive production from the lineup. With Travis Ishikawa, Jaff Decker, and Pedro Florimon all playing, the bottom of the lineup just can’t produce. Those three combined to go 0-10 on the night, and even though Florimon and Ishikawa are good defenders, defense doesn’t win you games.

Trends are emerging for this Pirates teams, and not good ones. For starters, the team has scored five runs total in four of their six games post-All-Star break. One run almost never wins you a game. Charlie Morton is also becoming a liability as a starter. After a fantastic start to the year, Morton’s now given up at least two runs in each of his last six outings, and his ERA sits at 4.59 for the year. Andrew McCutchen is also mired in a minor slump, as he’s gone 4-19 with just one RBI since the All-Star break. His average, which was once at .302, is now down to .290.

What’s Next

The Pittsburgh Pirates (54-40) return home to face the Washington Nationals (51-42) to begin a four-game set. Francisco Liriano (5-6, 2.98 ERA), who missed his last start due to tightness in his neck, returns to the mound for the Pirates. He’ll face Doug Fister (3-5, 4.30), who’s given up at least four runs in two out of his last three starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM at PNC Park.

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