Texas Rangers 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 2: Stars And Stiffs

May 28, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Cole Figueroa (24) throws to first to force out Texas Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar (not pictured) in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
May 28, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Cole Figueroa (24) throws to first to force out Texas Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar (not pictured) in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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On Saturday night the Pittsburgh Pirates saw their five game winning streak snapped by the Texas Rangers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Juan Nicasio to the hill, and lost to the Texas Rangers 5-2 on Saturday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates were due for a clunker after winning 10 of their last 12 games. However, this did not make Saturday night’s game any less annoying.

Despite the loss on Saturday night, the Pirates are still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot in the National League. Also, Sunday’s pitching matchup favors the Pittsburgh Pirates with Francisco Liriano on the mound. All of that said, here are the three Pittsburgh Pirates stars and stiffs from Saturday night’s loss.

STARS

Second baseman Cole Figueroa – Usual Pirate second baseman Josh Harrison is still under the weather. As a result, Cole Figueroa got a start at second base and he played a very strong game. On Saturday night Figueroa went 1-for-1 with a walk, a stolen base, and a RBI.

Figueroa also made contributions on defense. In the bottom of the fifth inning with the Pittsburgh Pirates trailing 4-1 Figueroa made the defense play of the game. Leading off the inning Jurickson Profar hit a ground ball toward second base. Figueroa charged the ball, barehanded it, and threw to first base to retire the speedy Profar for the first out of the inning. In his first start of the year, Cole Figueroa played one of the best games of his Major League career. 

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Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel – A.J. Schugel took over on the hill in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Pittsburgh Pirates trailing 4-1. Furthermore, the Rangers had two men on and two outs at the time. However, Schugel pitched excellently tonight.

A.J. Schugel wound up pitching 1 1/3 innings on Saturday night, and he retired all four batters he faced. After his strong showing tonight Schugel is averaging 8.55 K/9, to go along with a 3.24 FIP and a 3.52 xFIP in 20 innings pitched this season.

First baseman John Jaso – Pirate first baseman John Jaso recorded a pair of hits of Saturday night. Jaso has proved to be one of Neal Huntington’s best free agent signings, and this as continued with his 2-for-4 performance on Saturday night.

STIFFS

Starting pitcher Juan Nicasio – On Saturday night Juan Nicasio got the ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and things did not go well. Nicasio lasted just 4 2/3 innings for the Pirates. However, his problems began before this.

Nicasio gave up three runs in the first inning, and four total in 4 2/3 innings pitched. After tonight’s performance Nicasio has a 4.79 ERA, 4.51 FIP, and is averaging 3.45 BB/9 in nine starts this season. Luckily for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans, Nicasio should be moved to the bullpen for Jameson Taillon very soon.

Third baseman David Freese – David Freese started at third base on Friday night, and he went 0-for-4. This included grounding out to third base to end the first inning with John Jaso at third base. David Freese has been very good as a Pirate this season, However, Saturday night was not his best effort.

Left fielder Starling Marte – Starling Marte has been arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates best player in 2016. However, he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strike outs on Saturday night.

Like Freesem, this was an uncharacteristically bad night for Marte. I look for him to bounce back in a big way tomorrow.

Next: Tonight Is An Important Start For Juan Nicasio

That will do it for tonight. Prior to this series, I expected the Pittsburgh Pirates to lose the first two games of the series. However, they are 1-1 in those games. Time to win the series with Franciso Liriano tomorrow.

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