After winning game one of their three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost game two of their series against the Brewers by a score of 9-5 on Wednesday night.
After starting out their nine game homestand with a 3-2 walk off win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Brewers on Wednesday. The Brewers defeated the Pirates by a score of 9-5, knocking the Bucs to 48-46 overall on the season. With the loss, the Pirates stay three games out of the National League’s last postseason spot.
This was a game in which the Brewers scored early and often against Pittsburgh Pirates pitching. Starting pitcher Jeff Locke set a bad tone early on and it carried throughout the rest of the game. The Pittsburgh Pirates used five pitchers on Wednesday night, and three of them allowed at least one run. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Wednesday night.
Left fielder Starling Marte – Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte reached base safely three times on Wednesday night. Marte finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a stolen base, and a run scored. Starling Marte also made a fine defensive play on Wednesday night.
With his stolen base on Wednesday night, Starling Marte now has 33 on the season. This temporarily tied him for the Major League lead with Milwaukee’s Jonathan Villar. However, the very next half inning Villar wound up swiping his 34th bag of the season.
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In the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucory ripped a hit to left field with the bases loaded. Starling Marte backhanded it on the warning track, and still managed to hold Lucroy to a two-run single instead of a bases clearing double. Even though this hit put the Pirates behind, at the time, 8-4 it was still a great play by Marte.
After his performance on Wednesday night Starling Marte now has a .314 batting average, .366 on-base percentage, .464 slugging percentage, and 33 stolen bases this season all of which are career highs. Also, Marte now has a .355 wOBA and a 126 wRC+, both of which are the second best of his career. Starling Marte entered tonight with a 2.7 WAR, putting him on pace to top his previous career best of 4.8 in 2013. What a player Starling Marte has become.
Shortstop Jordy Mercer– 2016 has been the best all-around season of Jordy Mercer’s career, and that continued on Wednesday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop went 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI on Wednesday night. Jordy Mercer also made a top notch defensive play in Wednesday night’s game.
In the top of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and no one out, Jordy Mercer made a spectacular defensive play. Ryan Braun hit a flare into shallow centerfield. Jordy Mercer made a great running, basket catch to rob Braun of a single and at least one RBI. At the time, this catch kept the Pirates within a run at 4-3.
First baseman David Freese – Neal Huntington’s decision to sign David Freese just keeps looking better. Freese started at first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night and had a great game for the Bucs. Freese finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles and a RBI.
On the season David Freese now owns a .289/.368/.467/.835 slash line. Also, David Freese has a .361 wOBA and a wRC+ of 129. A strong argument can be made that David Freese is having the best season of his Major League career in 2016. In my opinion, it is time the Pittsburgh Pirates start talking extension with David Freese.
Starting pitcher Jeff Locke – Jeff Locke started for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, and he was terrible. Locke allowed five runs on seven hits, five walks, and five strikeouts in three innings pitched on Wednesday night. On the season Jeff Locke now has a 5.54 ERA, 4.88 FIP, and a 4.96 xFIP.
Jeff Locke actually pitched into the fourth inning, but, not surprisingly as he should have been pulled after three, that went disastrously. With the Pirates trailing 4-3, Jeff Locke was sent back out for the fourth inning. Locke proceeded to walk his mound opponent Chase Anderson, he gave up a bunt single to Jonathan Villar, and then he walked Hernan Perez. Locke was then lifted for Jared Hughes, leaving Hughes a bases loaded with no out mess.
Quite honestly, Jeff Locke was lucky his final line was not worse on Wednesday night. In the first inning Locke walked Jonathan Villar to start the inning and then allowed a single to Hernan Perez. Ryan Braun then tattooed a baseball, but right at Jung Ho Kang who made a great play to start a double play. Locke was also lucky to only get charged with one run in the fourth inning.
There is no way the Pittsburgh Pirates can continue to trot Jeff Locke out there to start games. The Pittsburgh Pirates will not need a fifth starter again until August 14th, so there is no reason for Jeff Locke to start a game again anytime soon. If the Pirates are to go with four starting pitchers during this stretch they should be Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and Francisco Liriano.
Personally, I do not even want Jeff Locke in the bullpen. Jon Niese is better option to be a long man than he is. I do not care where Jeff Locke goes from here, I just want him gone.
Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel – Maybe the biggest positive surprise for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season has been right-handed relief pitcher A.J. Schugel. All season long Schugel has been extremely reliable out of the Pirate bullpen. Unfortunately, Schugel had a rare hiccup on Wednesday night.
A.J. Schugel took over in the top of the fifth inning and pitched a scoreless inning. Schugel would then return to the mound for the sixth inning and it would not go nearly as well. The Pittsburgh Pirates were trailing just 5-4 entering the sixth inning, but that would end up changing.
A.J. Schugel would issue a pair of walks and a single to load the bases with no one out in the sixth inning. Schugel then allowed a two-run single to Jonathan Lucroy, before being lifted for Arquimedes Caminero. A.J. Schugel’s final line read as one inning pitched three hits, three runs, two walks, and a strikeout. Even though Wednesday night did not go well, I still have a lot of confidence in A.J. Schugel.
Right fielder Gregory Polanco – Gregory Polanco has become arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates best player. Right now, that title is a competition between him and Starling Marte. Polanco also had a RBI on Wednesday night. However, he finished the game just 1-for-5 and left three men on base.
In the bottom of the second inning with Jordy Mercer on third base, only one out, and the infield in Gregory Polanco grounded out to second base. Since the infield was in, Jordy Mercer was forced to hold at third and wound up not scoring that inning. Then in the bottom of the fourth Gregory Polanco came to the plate with two men on and two outs, and grounded out to first base to end the inning. Even though Gregory Polanco had a rough night on Wednesday, I look for him to bounce back on Thursday night.
That will do it for tonight. Wednesday night’s game was an ugly game for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, it was less ugly for the Brewers than it was the Pirates.
Luckily for the Pirates the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, and New York Mets all lost on Wednesday as well. Due to this, the Pittsburgh Pirates remain four games out of the top Wild Card spot and three games out of the second Wild Card spot. The Bucs will go for the series victory against the Brewers tomorrow when Francsico Liriano opposes Matt Garza at 7:05.