Pittsburgh Pirates Start Homestand With Fifth Consecutive Loss
By Marty Leap
With the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates on life support, they began a vital eight game homestand on Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates started a four game series at PNC Park with their division rival St. Louis Cardinals. Due to a rain delay, the game started 20 minutes late. This was not the last time rain would impact Thursday night’s game.
The pitching matchup on Thursday was a battle of 50s. Jameson Taillon started for the Pirates, while long time Bucco nemesis Adam Wainwright got the ball for the Red Birds. In the end, the Pittsburgh Pirate bullpen failed to hold the lead they were given leading to a Pirate loss dropping the Bucs to 58-63 this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates got the scoring started early on Thursday night. Starling Marte singled to start the bottom of the 1st inning, and Josh Harrison followed with a two-run home run. Harrison’s 13th home run of the season made it 2-0 Pirates.
The Cardinals would get a run back in the top of the 2nd inning. It came via a solo home run by Jedd Gyorko. This cut the Pirate lead to 2-1.
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In the bottom of the 3rd inning the Pirates used some two-out magic to add to their lead. Josh Harrison singled, Andrew McCutchen walked, and then Josh Bell picked up a RBI single to score Harrison. This extended the Pirate lead to 3-1. Then, ex-Cardinal David Freese delivered a RBI single against his old squad to make it 4-1 Pirates.
Adam Frazier then stepped to the plate and would keep the train rolling. He hit a ground ball single that Cardinal second baseman Kolten Wong slowed down enough that it took too long to get to right fielder Randal Grichuk. This allowed Bell to score, and made it 5-1 Pirates after 3 innings of play.
Dexter Fowler drew a one-out walk in the top of the 4th inning and it was followed by a Yadier Molina single. Then with two outs, longtime Pirate killer Kolten Wong singled home Fowler to cut the Pirate lead to 5-2.
Luke Weaver took over on the mound for the Cardinals in the bottom of the 4th inning. In just 3 innings pitched on Thursday night Adam Wainwright allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, a walk, and he did not strike anyone out.
Weaver allowed a single to Chris Stewart to start the inning, however, Jameson Taillon would bunt into a 1-6-3 double play. Starling Marte then drew a walk before Josh Harrison struck out to end the inning.
In the top of the 5th inning, it started to rain yet again.
With one out in the inning Jameson Taillon issued back-to-back walks to Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham. It was obvious that the rain was affecting Taillon’s ability to grip the ball during these at bats, especially Pham’s.
Paul DeJong then ripped a RBI single off the left field wall to score Carpenter, cutting the Pirate lead to 5-3. Luckily for the Bucs, DeJong did not run at first allowing Starling Marte to throw him out at second base for the second out of the inning. After a Dexter Fowler single cut the Pirate lead to 5-4, Yadier Molina flew out to end the inning.
After the Pirates hit in the bottom of the 5th inning, the umpiring crew finally decided to put the tarp on the field and put the game in a rain delay. This delay brought Jameson Taillon’s night to an end.
In 5 innings pitched on Thursday night it was a bit of a mixed bag for Taillon. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts. However, the top of the 5th inning when he allowed two of the runs on a pair of hits and walks it was obvious that the rain was causing a lot of issues for him.
After a 1:12 rain delay, the game resumed with A.J. Schugel on the mound for the Pirates. Schugel allowed a base hit to Jedd Gyorko to start the inning, but then he got a fly out and a pair of strikeouts to end the inning with the Pirates steal leading 5-4.
Sam Tuivailala pitched the bottom of the 6th inning for the Cardinals. He allowed a double to Jordy Mercer to start the inning and issued a walk with two outs to pinch-hitter John Jaso. Starling Marte then reached on an infield hit to load the bases. Josh Harrison then flew out to end the inning. Stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th inning would come back to haunt the Pirates.
In the top of the 7th inning, Joaquin Benoit entered the game for the Pirates and Pirate fans held their collective breath. With one out in the inning Benoit allowed a base hit to Tommy Pham, and then he hit Paul DeJong with a pitch. He then gave up a two-run triple to Dexter Fowler, making the score 6-5 Cardinals.
After Fowler’s triple, Yadier Molina delivered a RBI single to make the score 7-5 Cardinals. Thankfully, this ended Joaquin Benoit’s night. Daniel Hudson took over for Benoit and struck out Jedd Gyorko, then he got Kolten Wong to ground out to end the inning.
After Thursday night’s disaster, Joaquin Benoit has now allowed 9 runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched with the Pirates. He has allowed 10 hits and owns just a single strikeout. He has no business still being on this team and blocking promising young bullpen arms like Dovydas Neverauskas and Edgar Santana.
Andrew McCutchen would double off of Tuivailala to start the bottom of the 7th inning. After Josh Bell drew a walk to put two men on with no outs, Tuivailala was lifted for fellow right-handed reliever Matt Bowman.
Bowman would come in and clean up Tuivailala’s mess. He struck out David Freese, got Adam Frazier to hit a dribbler back to the mound, and then he got Jordy Mercer to bounce back to the mound to end the inning.
Daniel Hudson remained in the game for the top of the 8th inning. Hudson would retire the Cardinals in order, to complete a tidy night for him that consisted of retiring all five batters he faced.
The new Cardinal pitcher in the bottom of the 8th inning was Tyler Lyons. To start the inning, he got Jose Osuna to line out to Jedd Gyorko. After Elias Diaz singled, Starling Marte hit into an inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
Wade LeBlanc pitched for the Pirates in the top of the 9th inning. On the first pitch he threw he allowed a moonshot of a home run to Tommy Pham to make the score 8-5 Cardinals. LeBlanc would allow base hits to Dexter Fowler and Jedd Gyorko before a Kolten Wong RBI single made it 9-5 Cardinals.
Randal Grichuk then launched a two-run triple into the notch in left field, this made it 11-5 Cardinals. After issuing a walk, LeBlanc got Matt Carpenter to mercifully bring the inning to an end.
Seung-hwan Oh was tabbed with the daunting task of not blowing an 11-5 lead in the bottom of the 9th inning. Although it did not come easily, he completed this task.
Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen collected back-to-back hits off of Oh to start the inning. Then with one out David Freese hit a double to score Harrison and cut the Cardinal lead to 11-6. Oh then hit Adam Frazier with a pitch to load the bases.
Jordy Mercer then reached on a fielder’s choice. This cut the Cardinal lead to 11-7 and put runners on the corners with two outs. Oh then got Jose Osuna to pop out to right field to end the game, giving the Cardinals an 11-7 victory.
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Thursday night’s loss was a game the Pittsburgh Pirates should have won. They had a 5-1 lead after 3 innings of play and handed the bullpen a lead after rain shortened Jameson Taillon’s night. However, Joaquin Benoit continued to be complete garbage and imploded in the 7th inning leading to a Pirate loss.
Game two of this four game series is scheduled for 7:05 on Friday night at PNC Park. Trevor Williams is scheduled to start for the Pirates, while the Cardinals plan to hand the ball to their ace Carlos Martinez.