Clint Hurdle Mismanages the Bullpen, Offense Shutdown as Pittsburgh Pirates Lose

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 20: Starting pitcher Ivan Nova
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 20: Starting pitcher Ivan Nova /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have now lost 4 of their last 5 games

Final. 1. 4. 2. 6

On Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1. With the loss, the Pirates are now 1-4 in their last 5 games. This skid puts the Pirates at 12-8 through the first 20 games of their 2018 season.

In Friday’s loss, Clint Hurdle, once again, mismanaged the Pirate bullpen. Additionally, the offense continued to sputter. In their past 5 games the Pirates have scored just 13 runs, with 10 of them coming in Wednesday’s victory over the Rockies. This includes the Bucs being shutout twice during this stretch.

Ivan Nova started for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their 2-1 loss on Friday and turned in his third consecutive strong start. In 6 innings pitched, Nova allowed just a single run on 5 hits, no walks, and 3 strikeouts.

Despite suffering the loss, the Pirates were the team that scored first on Friday night. In the top of the 6th inning, Francisco Cervelli was hit by a pitch and Colin Moran doubled. This gave the Bucs runners on second and third, leading to a Jordy Mercer sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0 Pirates.

This lead, however, would not last long. Back-to-back singles by Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera gave the Phillies runners on the corners with 1-out in the bottom half of the 6th inning. Rhys Hoskins then reached via fielder’s choice, allowing Santana to score to tie the game.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Clint Hurdle’s mismanaging of the bullpen would strike once again. With the game tied, George Kontos took over on the hill. Cesar Hernandez doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a groundout.

At this point, Hurdle should have gone to his best reliever – Felipe Vazquez. Instead, he managed for the save, by leaving his ‘closer’ in the bullpen, and doing would prove costly.

As Vazquez watched on from the bullpen, Herrera would hit a go-ahead triple off of Kontos making the score 2-1 Phillies. After Hoskins drew a walk, the Pirates got some serious help from the Phillies who ran into the last two outs of the inning via some epically awful base running.

Kontos has shown nothing this season to garner pitching in high-leverage situations. Yet, he continues to get those opportunities. Unsurprisingly, they tend to not go well. This is already the second game this season the Pirates have lost due to a Kontos 8th inning meltdown.

In the top of the 9th inning, the Pirates would get a 1-out double from Jordy Mercer. However, pinch-hitter David Freese would pop out before the struggling Adam Frazier grounded out to end the game.

Next: Pirate Week in Review: 4/13 - 4/19

The third game of this series is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the pitching matchup of Steven Brault and Aaron Nola greatly favors the Phillies. With a loss on Saturday, the Pirates would suffer their second consecutive series loss.