San Francisco Giants 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 6: Stars And Stiffs
The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their second consecutive game to the San Francisco Giants with Wednesday night’s loss. However, this loss was a lot more difficult to swallow than Tuesday night’s was.
In the month of June the Pittsburgh Pirates have had their fair share of gut-wrenching loses. This is to be expected from a team that entered Wednesday night’s game with a 5-15 record in the month of June. However, Wednesday night’s loss that caused the Pittsburgh Pirates to fall to 5-16 this month was probably the worst yet.
Wednesday night’s game was one the Pittsburgh Pirates led by a score of 6-1 after three innings. Due to this, the Pirates seemed to be well on their way to a victory over the San Francisco Giants. A victory that would have but the Pirates in position to take three of four from the first place Giants tomorrow and be in position to right the ship. However, as has happened countless other times this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching melted down and the Bucs lost to the Giants by a score of 7-6. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Wednesday night’s loss.
Left fielder Gregory Polanco – Gregory Polanco has become the Pirates best hitter, and that was on display once again on Wednesday night. Gregory Polanco went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs, and two runs scored on Wednesday night. The home run was Polanco’s tenth, which is a new carer high for him.
Polanco continues to terrorize National League pitching as he now has a .380 wOBA, 144 wRC+, and a .383 on-base percentage this season. Before our very eyes Gregory Polanco is evolving into the player he was hyped to come coming through the Minor Leagues and it has been so much fun to watch. The future of the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield is in great hands between Polanco, Starling Marte, and Austin Meadows.
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Right fielder Matt Joyce – Matt Joyce just continues to hit and get on base for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Joyce went 1-for-3 with a walk and a RBI in Wednesday night’s game, and he continued to show why he should be get the majority of the starts in the outfield, not Andrew McCutchen, against right-handed pitching. Neal Huntington signing Joyce on the eve of Spring Training just keeps looking better and better.
After his performance on Wednesday night Joyce now has a .424 wOBA and a 173 wRC+ on the season, both of which are career highs. Joyce also has a career best .421 on-base percentage and 17.4 walk percentage this season. If the Pittsburgh Pirates do fall out of contention, Matt Joyce is a player that could net a nice return at the trade deadline.
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated on Wednesday night, Jung Ho Kang had yet another strong game for the Bucs. Kang’s contributions came both at the plate and in the field for the Pirates. Kang went 1-for-4 at the plate with his tenth home run of the season, and he also stole his first base of the season.
Jung Ho Kang also turned in a pair of dazzling defensive plays on Wednesday night. The first came in just the second at bat of the game when Kang made a leaping grab to rob Joe Panik of a one out single. Then in the top of the ninth inning, while playing well off the third base line, he made a great running play to backhand the ball and throw out the runner at first base for the first out of the inning.
Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano – As I wrote about over the weekend, Francisco Liriano has been the Pittsburgh Pirates most disappointing player in 2016. Unfortunately fir Liriano and the Pirates, this continued in his start on Wednesday night. Once again Liriano failed to go more than five innings while flooding the base paths with base runners all night long.
Francisco Liriano wound up pitching five innings for the Pirates and he allowed four runs. The four runs came as a result of Liriano allowing six hits and walk three batters. On the season Liriano now has a 5.17 ERA, 5.43 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, and he is averaging 5.63 BB/9. The worst season of Francisco Liriano’s career continued on Wednesday night, and if the Pittsburgh Pirates have any chance at all of turning their season around then Liriano has to turn his around ASAP.
Relief pitcher Jared Hughes – The formerly extremely reliable Jared Hughes has been anything but reliable for Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016. On Wednesday night Jared Hughes took over on the mound in the top of the sixth inning with the Pirates leading 6-4. Unfortunately, that lead would evaporate quickly with Hughes on the mound.
Jared Hughes allowed three runs on four hits in the sixth inning on Wednesday night, and those three runs would prove to be the game winners for the Giants. After his porous performance on Wednesday night Jared Hughes now has a 4.12 ERA, 5.77 FIP, and 6.21 xFIP on the season. Minus his ERA, all of these numbers are career worst for Hughes.
Jared Hughes also has a career worst strike out rate (3.66 K/9), walk rate (5.49 BB/9), and ground ball rate (52.8 percent) this season. The most surprising stats here are the walks and lack of ground balls, as Hughes’ career ground ball rate was over 61 percent and career walk rate was less than three BB/9 entering the season. The totally unexpected implosion of Jared Hughes this season is a major reason the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has struggled so much in 2016.
Second baseman Josh Harrison – While the Pittsburgh Pirates have experienced a team June swoon this month, Josh Harrison has also been experiencing one of his own. Josh Harrison went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Wednesday night’s loss. As a result, Harrison is hitting just .200 in June after hitting .329 combined between the season’s first two months.
Josh Harrison also had an at bat that would prove to have a big negative affect on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Wednesday night’s loss. After Jung Ho Kang hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning, Matt Joyce worked a walk and the Pirates seemed poised to add to their 6-1 lead. However, Josh Harrison hit into a 6-4-3 double play. And the Bucs would not score again the rest of the game.
Next: The Pittsburgh Pirates Best Outfield Does Not Include Andrew McCutchen
The Pittsburgh Pirates have lost a lot of games in June, 16 to be exact, but Wednesday night’s was the worst. This loss really, really stings. Not only was it a game the Pirates desperately needed, it was a game they led 6-1 after three innings.
Things currently look extremely bleak for the 34-38 Pittsburgh Pirates. I said it on Twitter tonight and meant it, this is the game where I lose all and any remaining hope for the 2016 season. This pitching staff is a total and complete mess and there is no reason to expect it to improve.