Pittsburgh Pirates Suffer Frustrating Lose vs Brewers

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 15: Ivan Nova /

The Pittsburgh Pirates started a vital stretch with a loss on Tuesday night

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered Tuesday night’s game 4.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. However, 34 of their next 38 (now 33 of 37) are against the division. This vital stretch began at Miller Park on Tuesday night.

Entering this brief two game series in Milwaukee the Pittsburgh Pirates had dominated the Milwaukee Brewers this season. The Bucs entered this series 8-3 against the Brewers this season, and 2-0-1 in their trio of series played.

Unfortunately, things would not go as well on Tuesday night. The Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated by the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night. With the loss, the Pirates have now lost three consecutive games while falling to three games under .500 at 58-61. They are also just 2-4 on their current road trip.

Travis Shaw singled to start the bottom of the 2nd and it was followed by a Domingo Santana walk. Ex-Pirate and new Brewer Neil Walker then hit a double play ball to first base that Josh Bell committed a throwing error on. This loaded the bases with no one out.

More from Rum Bunter

It appeared the game was going to get away from Pirate starter Ivan Nova and fast. However, to his credit, Nova would limit the damage. He got Manny Pina to ground out deep in the hole at shortstop on a ball Jordy Mercer made an excellent play on to retire Santana at third base. Eric Sogard then hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

While the Pirates found themselves trailing 1-0 after the 2nd inning, it could have been much worse.

The Pirates threatened to score off of Milwaukee starter Zach Davies in the top of the 3rd inning. Jordy Mercer led off the inning with a great 11 pitch at bat that ended with a base hit. Then with 2 outs, Starling Marte collected a single. However, Josh Harrison would pop out to first base to end the inning.

A big factor in the top of the 3rd inning was a failed sacrifice bunt by Ivan Nova. Had Nova gotten the bunt down to move Mercer to second base, then Marte’s single would have tied the game at 1 run a piece.

Josh Bell would draw a walk to start the top of the 4th inning. Then on a two out single by Adam Frazier, he went to third base. Milwaukee right fielder Domingo Santana’s throw to third base got away from Travis Shaw. Bell then attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate.

MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 15: Josh Bell /

Brewers’ catcher Manny Pina was blocking the plate on the play. Clint Hurdle challenged this and it looked like a violation of the Buster Posey Rule. However, the play was not overturned. The big issue in the inning, though, was the incredibly stupid decision to send Bell home on the play. Yes, the ball got away from Shaw but there is not much foul territory in Milwaukee and the ball remained close to Shaw.

After Ivan Nova hit Travis Shaw with a pitch in the bottom of the 4th inning, Zach Davies retaliated by hitting Jordy Mercer with a pitch to start the top of the 5th inning. The Pirates then executed a hit and run that saw Chris Stewart hit a line drive single to right field, giving the Pirates runners on the corners with no one out.

After a Nova sacrifice bunt moved Stewart to second with one out, Starling Marte hit a soft bloop that was caught by second baseman Neil Walker for the second out of the inning. Josh Harrison then grounded out to end the inning.

For the third consecutive inning the Pirates put multiple runners on base, and for the third consecutive inning the Pirates failed to score.

In the top of the 6th inning, the Pirates finally broke through against Davies.

Andrew McCutchen drew a walk to start the inning and was replaced on the bases by Josh Bell who reached on a fielder’s choice. Then with two outs, Adam Frazier hit a triple to score Bell and tie the game at 1. Jordy Mercer was then robbed of a go ahead hit by Neil Walker to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, the house of horrors that is Miller Park would strike for the first time in quite awhile. With two outs and runners on the corners, Manny Pina hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield. David Freese dove for the ball, when he should have let it go to Jordy Mercer, and it clanked off his glove. Mercer then fielded it and fire a strike to first base to retire Pina and end the inning.

Despite being out by more than a full step Pina was called safe at first base. Since the Pirates were out of challenges, Clint Hurdle could do nothing more than ask for a replay that Joe West would not grant. This gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead after 6 innings of play.

This inning also featured a costly passed ball by Chris Stewart. It allowed Travis Shaw to advance to second base with Domingo Santana at the plate. Santana would then ground into what would have been an inning ending double play without the passed ball. Even if the Bucs wouldn’t have turned two, Shaw would have been on second base and not third on Pina’s ‘infield hit’.

This fiasco brought Ivan Nova’s strong night to an end. After struggle immensely in recent starts, Nova held the Brewers to a pair of runs, the second of which never should have scored and the first of which was unearned, in 6 innings of work. Hopefully this start will get Nova back on track.

Starling Marte collected his second hit of the night in the top of the 7th inning. It came with two outs in the inning and brought Davies’ night to an end. Ex-Pirate Jared Hughes then took over for the Brewers.

Marte would steal second base off of Hughes. This put the tying run in scoring position for Josh

MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 15: Zach Davies
MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 15: Zach Davies /

Harrison. Unfortunately, Harrison could not take advantage as he would bounce back to Hughes to end the inning.

Zach Davies entered Tuesday night’s start with a 4.40 ERA and a 4.51 FIP this season. However, in 6 2/3 innings pitched he kept the Pirates in check. He allowed just the single run on just 6 hits and a pair of walks.

A.J. Schugel entered the game to pitch for the Pirates in the bottom of the 7th inning and promptly allowed a pinch-hit home run to Keon Broxton to make the score 3-1 Brewers. Schugel would quiet the Brewers the rest of the inning while recording a strikeout.

Jacob Barnes pitching the top of the 8th inning for the Brewers. After retiring the Pirates in order, Joaquin Benoit entered to pitch the bottom of the 8th inning for the Pirates. Benoit would work around a single to post a zero and keep the score at 3-1.

Corey Knebel, who has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season, took over for the Brewers in the top of the 9th inning. Adam Frazier and Jordy Mercer both crushed balls to center field that the ballpark managed to hold. Then pinch-hitter John Jaso then drew a walk, this brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Sean Rodriguez. However, Knebel struck out Rodriguez looking to end the game.

Next: How to Retool the Bullpen Internally

Tuesday night’s Pittsburgh Pirates loss was yet another frustrating one. The Bucs got a lot of base runners against a bad starting pitcher but failed to drive enough of them home. They played sloppy defense, made base running mistakes, and the bottom of the 6th inning was a complete fiasco. Tuesday night’s loss was a game that the Pirates lost just as much as the Brewers won.

On Wednesday afternoon the Pirates and Brewers will play the final game of this brief two game series. It looks like a good pitcher’s duel on paper between Gerrit Cole and Jimmy Nelson. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10.