Pittsburgh Pirates, Ivan Nova Both Continue to Struggle

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 29: Cory Spangenberg
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 29: Cory Spangenberg /

The week from hell continued for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night

The Pittsburgh Pirates have now lost 6 of their past 7 games. This comes after the Bucs had gotten back over .500 at 51-50, pulling to 2 games out of first place in the National League Central. The latest loss came against the San Diego Padres by a score of 4-2 on Saturday night.

Right now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are struggling immensely. The Bucs are now just 2-6 on their 9 game road trip, which has dropped them to 50-54 on the season. It is looking less and less likely that the Pirates will be active buyers before Monday afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Ivan Nova started for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night and turned in another stinker of a start. Nova has struggled since the end of April and is regressing back into the bad pitcher he was throughout his career in New York.

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, the San Diego Padres scored first.

Manuel Margot singled to start the inning and then scored on a 1-out RBI triple by Jose Pirela. On the play, Pirate right fielder Adam Frazier was of no help for Nova. However, Pirela’s ball was hit hard.

After this, Hector Sanchez hit a double. This double made it 2-0 Padres. After a Cory Spangenberg single, Nova would get a strike him out throw him out double play to end the inning.

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San Diego would add to their lead in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Spangenberg singled to start the inning. Hunter Renfroe then hit a double scoring Spangenberg to make it 3-0 Padres. Ivan Nova then struck out the next 3 hitters to end the inning with the Pirates trailing 3-0.

San Diego starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet was dominant through the game’s first 4 innings. Through his first 4 innings of work Lamet did not allow a hit, walked just 1 batter, and he struck out 6. This came after the Pittsburgh Pirates recorded just 3 hits in Friday night’s loss.

The Pirate offense finally started to show life in the top of the 5th inning. David Freese and Adam Frazier collected back-to-back hits to start the inning. Francisco Cervelli then lined a ball that appeared to be ticketed for center field. However, he hit it right at second baseman Carlos Asuaje who turned it into a double play. Jordy Mercer then flew out to left field to end the inning.

Manuel Margot led off the bottom of the 5th inning with his 8th home run of the season. This made the score 4-0 Padres. This would be the score after 5 innings of play on Saturday night.

Ivan Nova struggled in his 5 innings of work on Saturday. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits, a home run, and 6 strikeouts. In his last 16 starts Nova now owns a putrid 4.56 ERA. It is starting to look as if the Pirates might be stuck with an albatross of a contract the next 2 seasons with Nova.

Wade LeBlanc would replace Ivan Nova in the bottom of the 6th inning. LeBlanc put together a 1-2-3 6th inning, which included a strikeout.

Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Cutch would then advance to third base on a passed ball. Lamet then walked Josh Bell to put runners on the corners with no one out.

After walking Bell, Lamet was lifted for reliever Craig Stammen.

Stammen faced David Freese, fell behind in the count 3-0, and then allowed a RBI single to Freese. This cut the San Diego lead to 4-1. Adam Frazier then collected his second hit of the game, this loaded the bases with no one out.

Francisco Cervelli would hit into a 4-6-3 double play. On the double play, however, Bell scored to cut the Padre lead to 4-2. Jordy Mercer then drew a walk to put men on the corner with 2 outs. San Diego manager Andy Greene then removed Stammen from the game replacing him with Phil Maton.

Maton would face pinch-hitter Jose Osuna. Maton would get Osuna to chase on a 1-2 pitch, to strike him out. This ended the inning and kept the score at 4-2 Padres heading into the 7th inning stretch.

Dinelson Lamet had struggled prior to Saturday night’s start. But in 6 innings of work on Saturday night he held the Pirates to 2 runs on 2 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Tony Watson took over on the mound for the Pirates. Watson would duplicate LeBlanc’s success from the bottom of the 6th inning. Like LeBlanc, Watson retired the Padres in order while recording a strikeout.

Starling Marte would leg out a bunt single off of Phil Maton to start the top of the 8th inning. However, Maton would retire the next 3 Pirate hitters as the Bucs were unable to capitalize on Marte getting on base to start the inning.

After Juan Nicasio pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning, Kirby Yates entered in the 9th for the Padres. Yates would retire the Pirates in order to close out a 4-2 San Diego victory.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a bad way right now. They are stuck in a major rut, and it could not have come at a worse time. With this loss, the Pirates are now 5.5 games out of first place in the National League Central.

Tomorrow afternoon’s series finale is scheduled for 4:40 PM in the East. Gerrit Cole will take the ball for the Pirates and look to avoid a sweep against struggling San Diego left-handed starting pitcher Clayton Richard.