Pittsburgh Pirates Meltdown in the 9th Inning, Lose Series vs the Padres

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

After recording three consecutive wins, the Pittsburgh Pirates have now lost three in a row

127. Final. 5. 4. 8

Following a 9-5 loss against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 26-20 this season. This was the team’s third consecutive loss, and just the second series they have lost at PNC Park this season.

While losing a series to the Padres at PNC Park comes as no surprise – the Friars have only ever lost two series at PNC Park – it is still a disappointment. The Padres entered the series as one of the worst teams in the National League with a 17-28 record. Losing any series to a team that bad stings, it is even worse when that series loss comes at home. Additionally, the way the Pirates lost on Sunday makes the loss sting. A game that saw the Pirates allow runs to score due to poor defense, as well as leaving too many men on base, was capped off with 9th inning meltdown highlighted by poor defense.

Trevor Williams started for the Pirates on Sunday and was cruising early on.

Williams retired the first 10 batters he faced on Sunday afternoon. This string was broken up by a 1-out Eric Hosmer single in the top of the 4th inning. Christian Villanueva would then hit a line drive 2-run home run. His 12th home run of the season gave the Padres a 2-1 lead.

Then in the top of the 5th inning, Williams was hurt by his defense. Gregory Polanco badly misplayed a ball hit by A.J. Ellis leading to a double and San Diego having runners on second and third with 1-out. A fielder’s choice and a squeeze bunt would run the score to 4-1 Padres.

The double Ellis hit was a ball that should have been caught for an out. This was not Polanco’s only folly on Sunday. He also struck out with runners on second and third and no one out in the bottom of the 3rd inning, as well as popping out to third base with two on and just one out in the bottom of the 5th inning and popping out to third base again with two men on base to end the 8th inning.

Williams lasted 6 innings on Sunday and allowed 4 runs on just 4 hits. He struck out 5 Padres and for a second consecutive start he did not walk a batter. Due to poor right field defense from Polanco’s, the final line on Williams looked worse than he pitched.

As for the Pirate offense, it got a boost from the returning Josh Harrison on Sunday. In his first game since April 15th, Harrison collected a hit in each of his first three trips to the plate. This included a 3rd inning double that helped lead to the first Pirate run. Two batters after Harrison doubled, Francisco Cervelli hit a sacrifice fly to score Williams making the score 1-0 Pirates.

In the bottom of the 6th inning the Pirates would turn to the long ball.

After Colin Moran drew a 2-out walk, Austin Meadows hit his first career home run. This was followed by Jordy Mercer‘s 3rd home run of the season. This tied the game a  4 runs a piece after 6 innings of play.

In addition to tying the game, Mercer’s home run chased San Diego starter Jordan Lyles from the game. Prior to the back-to-back home runs, Lyles was pitching a strong game. He wound up allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and he walked a pair in 5 2/3 innings pitched.

After a scoreless 7th inning from Edgar Santana and 8th inning from Michael Feliz, the Pirate offense would gear up once again in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Facing the hard throwing Kirby Yates, Moran singled to start the inning and was replaced by pinch runner Sean Rodriguez. After Meadows collected his third hit of the day and Mercer struck out, pinch hitter David Freese was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Harrison then came through with a go ahead sacrifice fly to make the score 5-4 Pirates.

Entering Sunday’s game the Pirates were 21-0 when leading after 8 innings this season with the dominance of Felipe Vazquez being a big reason why. While, on Sunday, Vazquez and the Pirate defense would both meltdown in the 9th inning.

After allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning, Felipe got the double play ball he needed. Corey Spangenberg hit a ground ball to shortstop, however, Mercer’s throw pulled Harrison off the bag, clanked off Harrison’s glove, and settled in shallow center field.

This allowed the Padres to score a run and gave them runners on the corners with no one out. Freddy Galvis then hit a ball back to Felipe, however, no one covered first base quick enough allowing Galvis to reach. Felipe then allowed a 2-run double to Ellis – making the score 8-5 Padres – before being pulled for Richard Rodriguez.

Potentially adding to the sting of Sunday’s loss is what may have been an ankle injury for Felipe. After exiting the game, he removed his shoe, rubbed his ankle, and then limped to the clubhouse.

After Rodriguez put out the fire, and Bucs were able to load the bases against Brad Hand in the bottom of the 9th inning. After Hand walked Cervelli and Rodriguez, pinch hitter Jose Osuna reached on an error by Galvis. However, Hand then got Mercer to line out to third base to end the game.

Sunday’s loss was arguably the worst for the Pirates this season. After battling back from a 4-1 deficit the Bucs entered the 9th inning with the lead and appeared to be on their way to the win. Even when San Diego had two on and no outs in the 9th things still looked good when Spangenberg hit what appeared to be a double play ball, but at this point everything started to go awry and things came unglued.

As was covered above, the Padres are a terrible team and losing any series to them, especially at home, just can not happen. However, that is exactly what happened to the Pirates this week. Also, going just 5-4 on this home stand is a letdown. The Pirates were playing three poor teams and started the stand 5-1. Finishing it with three consecutive losses to a bad Padres team leaves a real sour taste in your mouth after this home stand.

Next: Looking at Josh Bell's Hot May

After a day off on Monday, the Pirates return to action on Tuesday night. The Bucs will travel to Great American Ballpark for a three-game series against the Reds with game one’s scheduled starters being Jameson Taillon and Matt Harvey. Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.