Pittsburgh Pirates Continue to Struggle Against the Lowly Reds

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 01: Jameson Taillon
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 01: Jameson Taillon /

Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Pirates suffered an embarrassing loss against the Cincinnati Reds

The Pittsburgh Pirates have played some very poor games this season, but Tuesday night might have been the worst. Jameson Taillon started and continued his recent struggles, the Pirates played very poor defense, and the offense struggled immensely against a poor pitcher in Homer Bailey. As a result, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 9-1.

With the loss to the Reds on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 51-55 this season. This includes now being 1-7 against the last place Reds, which is embarrassing in itself. Oh, and don’t forget, that the Reds entered this game 3-14 in their last 17 games.

It did not take long for poor defense to plague the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, poor defense showed up during the first at bat of the game.

Professional Pirate killer Billy Hamilton tripled to start the game. While with Hamilton’s speed it may have been a triple anyway, right fielder John Jaso took a terrible angle to the ball, failed to cut it off, and allowed it to roll to the wall. This took away any chance of holding Hamilton to a double.

After walking Jesse Winkler, Jameson Taillon would induce three consecutive ground balls. While a Joey Votto ground out allowed Hamilton to score, Taillon did a nice job of getting out of the top of the 1st inning trailing just 1-0.

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In the bottom of the 1st inning, the Pirates would tie the game. Starling Marte was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Then with 1 out, Marte advanced to third base on an infield hit by Andrew McCutchen. A Josh Bell RBI single then tied the game at 1.

With runners on first and second and just 1 out the Pirates seemed primed to score more. Unfortunately, poor base running would then rear its ugly head. Andrew McCutchen would get picked off at second base for the second out of the inning.

McCutchen’s pick off would come back to bite. David Freese would draw a walk, and then John Jaso flew out to end the inning. Had McCutchen not been picked off, Freese’s walk would have loaded the bases with 1 out and Jaso’s fly out would have been a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 Pirates.

Cincinnati would retake the lead in the top of the 2nd inning and then never look back.

Jose Peraza doubled with 1 out. This double was aided by a poor play from Andrew McCutchen in center field. After a Tucker Barnhart RBI single made it 2-1 Reds, Home Bailey laid down a sacrifice bunt. Taillon fielded Bailey’s bunt and made a very poor throw to second base. This brought Jordy Mercer off the bag allowing both Barnhart and Bailey to be safe.

On the very next pitch, Billy Hamilton snuck his third home run of the season over the Clemente Wall. This made the score 5-1 Reds.

Adam Duvall then doubled to lead off the top of the 3rd inning. He advanced to third on a base hit by Scooter Gennett and then scored on an Eugenio Suarez sacrifice fly. This extended the Reds’ lead to 6-1.

Scooter Gennett’s base hit provided more embarrassment for the Pirates. Starling Marte fired a throw into the infield that was cut off by Jordy Mercer. The Pirates then had Gennett tied up in a rundown and dead to rights. However, no one covered second base during the rundown which allowed Gennett to reach safely.

Taillon’s struggles would continue in the top of the 4th inning. With 2 outs, he allowed a solo home run to Jesse Winker. This was Winker’s first career home run and made the score 7-1 Reds. After back-to-back singles and a Scooter Gennett double made it 8-1 Pirates, Taillon would be lifted for A.J. Schugel. After walking Eugenio Suarez, Schugel would get Jose Peraza to ground out to end the inning.

This was Jameson Taillon’s second consecutive disastrous start. What has happened to Taillon, who had been the Pirates’ best starting pitcher this season, his past two starts is extremely alarming. Taillon allowed 8 runs on 7 hits, a walk, and 2 home runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched on Tuesday night. In his past two starts, he has allowed 18 runs on 16 hits, 3 walks, and a pair of home runs in 6 2/3 innings pitched.

Something definitely appears to be wrong with Jameson Taillon. It would be even more concerning if there are no health issues right now. Regardless, it might be time to give Taillon a disabled list stint to let him recharge.

A.J. Schugel would also pitch the top of the 5th inning. He would post a zero for the Pirates, thanks to a phenomenal play by Starling Marte. With 2 outs, Marte extended nearly his entire upper body into the left field bleachers to take a 2-run home run away from Jesse Winkler.

In the top of the 6th inning Wade LeBlanc took over on the mound, Starling Marte shifted to center field, Jordan Luplow took over in left field, and Andrew McCutchen exited the game. Wade LeBlanc did a great job of helping to save the bullpen on Tuesday night. In 3 scoreless innings pitched he allowed just a single hit, hit a batter, did not walk a batter, and he struck out 4.

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 01: Homer Bailey
PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 01: Homer Bailey /

Entering Tuesday’s game Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey owned an 8.37 ERA, a 5.82 FIP, and he averaged just 4.7 innings per start. On Tuesday night, however, he turned in his best start of the season. Bailey held the Pirates to 1 run on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts in 6 innings of work. Bailey’s success on Tuesday night just added to the poor performance from the Pirates.

A bad Cincinnati bullpen then came in and continued to shut down the Pirate offense. As a result, for just the sixth time since the end of April the porous Cincinnati Reds allowed just 1 run in a game.

Jhan Marinez pitched the top of the 9th inning for the Pirates. To start the inning, he allowed a home run to Eugenio Suarez to make the score 9-1 Cincinnati. After allowing an infield hit to Jose Peraza, Marinez would retire the next three hitters to end the inning.

Next: Huntington, Pirates Mismanage the Trade Deadline

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a bad team. That was on full display on Tuesday night. The fact they are a bad team is why Neal Huntington should have committed to selling before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. However, it is too late for that now.

Regardless of the Pirates’ shortcomings, Tuesday night’s performance was embarrassing and inexcusable. The Bucs played terrible defense, made base running errors, and failed to hit a bad pitcher. All of this came against one of the worst teams in baseball to boot.

The second game of this series is scheduled for 7:05 on Wednesday night. Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates, while the Reds will send Robert Stephenson to the mound. Hopefully, the Pirates can turn in a better performance than they had on Tuesday night.