Pittsburgh Pirates Fail To Complete Sweep Of St. Louis Cardinals
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished their 7 game road trip with a 4-3 record
Sunday night the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to complete a 3 game weekend sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so. Despite having a lead entering the 6th inning, poor bullpen execution and a costly Jordy Mercer error would burn the Pirates.
After the loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 35-41 this season. However, they remain firmly in the thick of things in the National League Central as they are just 5 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers.
Early on, things looked bleak for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is because in the bottom of the 2nd inning the St. Louis Cardinals looked like they were going to bust the game open in a big way and fast.
The Cardinals had the bases loaded with no one out and Paul DeJong at the plate. However, Pirate starting pitcher Chad Kuhl got DeJong to foul out to catcher Elias Diaz for the first out of the inning. Greg Garcia then smacked a 2 run single, this made the score 2-0 Cardinals and gave them runners on the corners with just 1 out.
Cardinal pitcher Mike Leake then struck out when he bunted a sacrifice bunt attempt foul with 2 outs. Kuhl was then able to get Matt Carpenter to ground out to first base to end the inning. Kuhl did an excellent job of holding the Cardinals to just 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd.
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In the top of the 3rd inning, the Pittsburgh Pirates would strike back.
Jordy Mercer singled to start the inning, Elias Diaz doubled, and the Pirates had runners on second and third with no one out. After Leake was able to strikeout Kuhl, Adam Frazier hit a 2 run triple to tie the game at 2.
This was followed by a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly that made it 3-2 Pirates. After John Jaso doubled, David Freese would groundout to shortstop to end the inning.
The Cardinals would help out the Pirates with some poor defense in the top of the 4th inning. After Andrew McCutchen singled with 1 out, Jordy Mercer hit a ground ball to shortstop. Aledmys Diaz threw the ball away, putting runners on second and third with 1 out. This led to an Elias Diaz sacrifice fly that made it 4-2 Pirates.
After allowing base hits to 5 of the first 8 hitters he faced, Chad Kuhl would settle in for the Pirates. He would retire the next 8 batters he faced. This included him recording 4 strikeouts and make a great catch on a line drive by Paul DeJong.
Things got a little hairy in the top of the 5th inning, but Kuhl got out of it. With 1 out, he allowed a single to Mike Leake and he walked Mike Carpenter. However, he then struck out Tommy Pham and got Stephen Piscotty to fly out to end the inning.
Randal Grichuk would crush a 478-foot moonshot of a home run to start the bottom of the 6th inning. This cut the Pirate lead to 4-3. Yadier Molina then hit a double that was greatly aided by a poor throw by Andrew McCutchen. This brought Kuhl’s night to an end.
Tony Watson would be tabbed to relieve Kuhl. This was a poor decision by Clint Hurdle. Neither Juan Nicasio nor Felipe Rivero pitched yesterday, and when you combine that with the Pirates have the day off tomorrow Hurdle should have used these two pitches to divvy up the game’s final 12 outs.
Aledmys Diaz would bunt Molina down to third base. Watson then struck out Paul DeJong for the second out of the inning. After this, Clint Hurdle made his second managerial mistake of the inning.
Jedd Gyorko pinch hit for the Cardinals and should have been intentionally walked. Instead, the Pirates pitched to him and he hit a double to tie the game at 4. This double closed the book on Chad Kuhl who allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits, a walk, a home run, and 6 strikeouts in 5 innings pitched.
This was Kuhl’s 12th consecutive start in which he failed to pitch more than 5 innings, tying a Major League record for consecutive starts with failing to pitch more than 5 innings in a single season.
After Gyorko’s double, Jose Martinez was intentionally walked. Matt Carpenter then flew out to left field to end the 6th inning with the game now tied at 4.
Elias Diaz singled off new Cardinal pitcher Matt Bowman to start the top of the 7th inning for the Pirates. Gregory Polanco then grounded out to second base, moving Diaz to second base with just 1 out. Adam Frazier grounded out to first base for the second out of the inning, moving Diaz to third base.
Mike Matheny then pulled Bowman for hard throwing right-hander Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal would strikeout Josh Harrison on 3 pitches to thwart the Pirate threat in the top of the 7th inning, keeping the game tied at 4.
Juan Nicasio pitched the bottom of the 7th inning for the Pirates. He walked Tommy Pham to start the inning, although ball 4 should have been called strike 3. Nicasio then walked Stephen Piscotty and found himself in a real jam.
Following the back-to-back walks, Nicasio would strikeout Randal Grichuk for the first out of the inning. Yadier Molina would then hit a single to right field to score Pham and give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. Aledmys Diaz would then hit a ground ball to shortstop that Jordy Mercer booted fo an error, it scored a Cardinal run to make the score 6-4, and chased Nicasio from the game for Jhan Marinez.
A cross up between Marinez and catcher Elias Diaz led to a pitch going to the backstop that put runners on second and third with just 1 out. Paul DeJong then hit a ground ball under the glove of Jordy Mercer in a drawn-in infield to make it 8-4 Cardinals. If not for the cross up and runners advancing, DeJong would have hit into an inning ending double play.
After hitting a batter, Marinez would get the final 2 outs of the inning. This sent the game to the 8th inning with the Pirates trailing by a score of 8-4.
After the Pirates went down in order in the top of the 8th, Edgar Santana pitched the bottom of the inning. Santana would continue the good work he has done early on in his Major League career retiring the Cardinals in order. This included a pair of strikeouts to give him 9 in 5 2/3 career innings pitched.
Seung-Hwan Oh pitched the 9th inning for the Cardinals. Oh would retire the Pirates in order to finish off the game as an 8-4 Cardinal victory.
Next: A Potential Bullpen Trade Target
The Pirates’ 7 game road trip was a success. They split in Milwaukee, won the series in St. Louis, went 4-3, and are closer to first place than they were when the trip began. However, it should have been better. With better bullpen management, the Pirates would have won 3 of 4 in Milwaukee and swept the Cardinals. This would put them 3 games out of first place instead of 5.
After an off day on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates begin a 3 game interleague series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Trevor Williams is scheduled to start for the Pirates, while the Rays plan to send Alex Cobb to the mound.