Errors sink Pittsburgh Pirates in 3-1 loss to Cincinnati Reds


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Poor defense played a major role in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Labor Day. Jeff Locke pitched a decent game only to see multiple misplays in the field (four in total) lead to the Pirates’ sixth loss in eight games at Great American Ballpark this season. The Pirates are now 81-55 heading into the second game of the series on Tuesday.

The second inning proved to be the decisive inning on Monday. Brandon Phillips reached first base on an error by Sean Rodriguez, his second of the day after an error in the first. With Phillips on second after a Jay Bruce single, Eugenio Suarez added another base hit to score Phillips. The trouble continued for Locke after he walked Adam Duvall to load the bases. Tucker Barnhart knocked a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Bruce. Suarez was able to score as well and Duvall was able to move to third on a throwing error by Gregory Polanco, but fortunately the Pirates were able to get the last two outs of the inning and limit the damage.

Cincinnati looked poised to add to their lead in the sixth when Pedro Alvarez misplayed a ball hit by Phillips and then threw over the head of Locke covering at first. After putting Bruce on with a walk, Clint Hurdle brought in Jared Hughes to try to get all three outs in the inning. The first one came easy when Phillips got hung up between second and third and was tagged out, and the last two outs followed quietly.

The Pirates finally got to Anthony DeScalfani in the eighth when Jaff Decker doubled and Neil Walker brought him in with a run-scoring single. DeScalfani was then replaced by Jumbo Diaz, who issued a four pitch walk to Andrew McCutchen and then threw three more balls before getting Jung Ho Kang to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Antonio Bastardo kept the Reds off the board in the bottom of the inning, holding the Cincinnati lead to two runs with Aroldis Chapman entering the game. After Josh Harrison struck out, Chapman hit Rodriguez in the foot to give the Pirates a much-needed base runner. Starling Marte came in to pinch-hit and during his at-bat, Rodriguez was picked off first, ending a disaster of game for Rodriguez.

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What Stood Out

The defensive miscues undid the Pirates on Monday. While Locke did not finish six innings and started the game by throwing a lot of pitches, he settled down and ultimately only allowed one earned run. The high number of errors is hopefully an anomaly and not a trend that continues. Rodriguez is usually much sharper in the field and just had a really bad game overall. But Alvarez continues to be a concern at first base, especially with the postseason looming. Routine plays have turned into an adventure when he is involved and he often leaves fans holding their breath.

Every baseball team will experience a few games like Monday’s during the season. It’s just magnified in this situation given the lateness of the season and the pressure to catch the St. Louis Cardinals for the division title. Tuesday night represents an opportunity to put this game behind them.

What’s Next

Francisco Liriano (9-7, 3.40 ERA) will face Raisel Iglesias (3-6, 3.81 ERA) in the second game of the series that begins Tuesday at 7:10 PM. Liriano most recently took the loss in Milwaukee on September 3rd, when he gave up four runs over five innings of work. He also issued five walks, a number that hopefully will fall against the Reds. Iglesias has struck out at least ten hitters in each of his last three starts, including 13 against Arizona on August 23rd.

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