On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates were unsuccessful in their attempt to sweep a three-game weekend series against the San Francisco Giants
Going for a sweep on the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates came up short. With the 5-0 loss, the Pirates fell to 23-17 on the season. The team did improve to 9-3-1 in their 13 series played this season.
This was one of the more frustrating losses of the young season for the Pirates. This was a game that the Pirates should have won. They were going for a sweep at home against a sub-.500 team that sent a bad starting pitcher to the mound, but the Bucs failed to get the job done.
Ivan Nova started for the Pirates on Sunday afternoon and was able to dance around raindrops for much of his start. After lasting just 2 innings in his last start, Nova started Sunday’s start with 5 scoreless innings.
Nova’s 5 scoreless innings did not come easy, though. The first four outs of the game all came on balls that were put in play with an exit velocity over 100 miles per hour, but Pirate defenders made a play on. It was evident that if Nova kept allowing hard contact he would not keep posting zeroes and that would prove to be true.
In the top of the 6th inning, the hard contact Nova was allowing finally bit him. Ex-Pirate Gorkys Hernandez led the inning off with a home run to get the Giants on the board, breaking the scoreless tie.
Then with 2-out and a pair of runners on base, Nova allowed a run-scoring double to Brandon Crawford making it 2-0 Giants. Nova was then lifted for Richard Rodriguez who promptly allowed a 3-run home run to Nick Hundley, running the Giant lead to 5-0.
Hundley’s home run would close the book on Nova who was charged with 4 earned runs on 8 hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Nova entered Sunday’s game allowing hard contact 35.1% of the time and hard contact would continue to plague him in the loss. If Nova does not solve this problem, it is difficult to envision him turning his season around.
What made Sunday’s loss so frustrating was the inability of the Pirate offense to score against San Francisco starting pitcher Derek Holland. Entering the game Holland owned a 5.66 ERA, 5.12 FIP, a 21.6% walk rate, and an abysmal 1.80 HR/9. However, somehow, the Pirates could not solve Holland on Sunday.
Despite Holland pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Sunday, the Pirates had chances to score and could not cash in.
To start the game, Francisco Cervelli had a great 8-pitch at bat that ended in a walk. He would be stranded, though. They then wasted a leadoff double by Corey Dickerson in the bottom of the 2nd inning and 1-out double by Jose Osuna in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Following Osuna’s double, Starling Marte grounded out to shortstop and Osuna was thrown out trying to advance to third base on the play. After Holland would walk Josh Bell, Dickerson popped out to end the inning.
David Freese singled to start the bottom of the 4th inning and it was followed by a Sean Rodriguez walk. However, Jordy Mercer then hit into an around-the-horn double play. Holland then retired Nova to end the threat.
Entering Sunday’s game opposing hitters had lit up Holland to the tune of a .536 slugging percentage and a .373 wOBA the second time through the lineup. To Holland’s credit though, he did not allow this trend to continue on Sunday.
One positive from Sunday’s loss was the work of Tyler Glasnow out of the bullpen. Glasnow pitched the 8th and 9th innings, and continues to look like a brand new pitcher this season. In his 2 scoreless innings of work, Glasnow allowed a pair of hits, walked a batter, and struck out 3. He continues to have all the looks of a dominant reliever this year now owning a 2.86 FIP and 29 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings pitched.
Another positive was Clint Hurdle finally batting Francisco Cervelli leadoff. The Pirate backstop responded by going 1-for-3 with a double and his aforementioned walk. Hopefully, Cervelli in the leadoff spot is a trend that continues.
After an off day on Monday, the Pirates will begin a shortened two-game series with the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park on Tuesday night. Trevor Williams is scheduled to start for the Pirates, while the White Sox plan to send Reynaldo Lopez to the mound in a rematch of last Wednesday’s 6-5 Pirate victory.