Don’t Blame The Pittsburgh Pirates Losing On Musgrove Defending His Teammates


Joe Musgrove stuck up for his teammates on Monday night. And, despite what some may say, this is not why the Pittsburgh Pirates lost.

The unwritten rules of baseball can often times spark debate among fans, players, and coaches. This is something that was on full display for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Monday night’s 9-5 loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In the top of the 7th inning Arizona pitcher Braden Shipley hit Josh Harrison in the left shoulder blade. He then nearly hit Austin Meadows in the head. While none of this was intentional, it was still something you never want to see.

After this occurred in the top half of the 7th inning, Pirate starting pitcher Joe Musgrove took matters into his own hands in the inning’s bottom half. With the first pitch of the inning Musgrove plunked Arizona center fielder Chris Owings. With that Musgrove policed the situation, stuck up for his teammates, and the situation was defused.

Entering the 7th inning, Musgrove was in cruise control. He had not walked a batter, the Diamondbacks had just four hits, and the Pirates were leading 5-0.

From purely a results standpoint Musgrove hitting Owings was no different than the speedy outfielder reaching on a swinging bunt, error, or a blooper to the outfield. But from a baseball standpoint, Musgrove hitting Owings was the correct move. For too long teams – the Diamondbacks included – have taken liberties with Pirates and bullied them around. Even during the postseason years of 2013, 2014, and 2015 this was an issue.

Two starts ago against the Chicago Cubs Musgrove proved he was not going to sit around and let this happen when he confronted Javier Baez after the Cubs’ infielder said something to Musgrove about the pitcher’s slide at second base. On Monday night, Musgrove once again proved he will not watch his team get bullied around, but, instead, he stuck up for his teammates.

Let’s also not act like that one single play is why the Pirates lost to the Diamondbacks on Monday night.

Two batters after Owings was hit, Shipley hit a ground ball to third base that David Freese inexplicitly rushed his throw on allowing Shipley to reach via an error. Later in the inning with the Bucs still leading 5-2, Edgar Santana grooved a 2-0 fastball to Jake Lamb that the power hitting third base launched for a game-tying home run.

Don’t forget the Pirates leaving the bases loaded in the top of the 8th inning, or failing to score when they had two men on base and just one out in the top of the 6th inning either. Then there was the disaster that ensued via Kyle Crick and Dovydas Neverauskas in the bottom half of the 8th inning.

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Did Musgrove hitting Owings to start the bottom of the 7th inning contribute to the Pirates’ 9-5 loss on Monday night? Yes, after all, Owings would come around to score the first Diamondback run of the night. Was it the main reason the Pirates lost, though? Absolutely not.

Musgrove stuck up for his teammates, something not enough Pirate pitchers do, and then Freese’s defense adn the bullpen let him down. Blame those two issues for the Pirate meltdown on Monday not, not Musgrove being a good teammate.