The Pittsburgh Pirates suffered a gut punch of a loss in extra innings on Friday night
After suffering a 9-3 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of their four-game series, the Pittsburgh Pirates entered Friday night’s contest looking to bounce back. Friday did not start out well for the Pirates though, as catcher Francisco Cervelli was placed on the 7-day disabled list before the start of the game.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, their Friday only got worse as they lost to the Diamondbacks 2-1 in 13 innings to fall to 36-39 on the season. With the loss, the Pirates are now 3-2 in extra innings this season and have lost three in a row after winning four out of five. The Pirates got plenty of great pitching on Friday night, but the offense was nonexistent for 10 innings and then could not get a big hit when needed with runners in scoring position. Mix in some defensive miscues in the 11th inning and it all resulted in a Pirate loss.
After the Pirate bullpen had to cover 7 innings on Thursday night, Clint Hurdle and his team desperately needed Nova to go deep on Friday night. To his credit, Nova grabbed the bull by the horns and did just that.
Early on Nova got some help from his defense. Josh Harrison made a fantastic diving stop ranging five steps to his left for the second out of the top of the 1st inning. Center fielder Starling Marte then made a superb diving catch sprinting into the left-center field gap to rob Paul Goldschmidt of a run-scoring single in the top of the 3rd inning.
In the top of the 5th inning the Diamondbacks looked poised to score following a leadoff double by Nick Ahmed. Nova, however, would work around the double thanks in large part to him striking out Jeff Mathis with Ahmed on third base and just one out.
When Nova’s night was over he had pitched 8 scoreless innings against the red hot Diamondback offense. Nova allowed just three hits, he did not walk a batter, and he struck out eight. In three starts since returning from the disabled list with a finger sprain Nova has allowed just three runs on 12 hits, five walks, and 19 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings pitched.
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For as good as Nova was, Arizona starter Patrick Corbin was every bit as electric.
Corbin throws one of the best sliders in baseball. On Friday, he threw 45 sliders and the Pirates swung and miss at 22 of them. In 7 shutout innings of work Corbin allowed three singles, he did not walk a batter, and he struck out a season-high tying 12.
After Felipe Vazquez worked around a pair of errors to pitch a scoreless top of the 9th inning, Archie Bradley fired a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning for the Snakes to send the game to extra innings tied at zero.
Kyle Crick allowed a double to Jarrod Dyson with one out in the top of the 10th inning. However, he then got back-to-back strikeouts, the second of which came after Dyson stole third base, to work around the double.
Facing Santana the Diamondbacks did something in the 11th inning that neither team had accomplished – they got multiple hits in the same inning.
Jon Jay singled to start the inning, but was then erased when Goldschmidt hit into a fielder’s choice. With runners on the corners and one out after a Jake Lamb single, David Peralta hit a ball back to Santana. Originally, Santana tried to start a 1-6-3 double play but he bobbled a ball. After the bobble he fired the ball to the plate instead to retire Goldschmidt trying to score.
Ketel Marte then hit a dribbler out in front of the plate that Diaz fielded and fired toward first base. This was a ball that Diaz should have eaten, instead, his throw toward first base was way off line allowing Lamb to score giving the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead.
Facing Arizona closer Brad Boxberger, Gregory Polanco and pinch hitter Josh Bell worked back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the 11th inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Harrison, Austin Meadows was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Marte stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, one out, and the Pirates trailing by a run. He hit a groundball to Lamb at third base and Lamb threw home in an effort to retire Polanco. Lamb’s throw hopped toward the plate and Mathis could not handle it allowing Polanco to be safe tying the game at 1.
David Freese then stepped to the plate looking to win the game. All Freese need was to get a ball out of the infield to send the Pirates home winners, but Boxberger struck him out before Diaz grounded out to end the inning.
Even though the Pirates were able to fight back and tie the game in the bottom of the 11th inning, the defensive miscues from the inning’s top half still proved costly as it was the difference in Lamb’s throwing error tying the game and winning it for the Pirates. Also, one could argue that Freese’s strikeout was the single biggest moment of this game.
With an assist going to Meadows for making a great sliding catch to rob Dyson of a hit to start the inning, Tyler Glasnow pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 12th inning. Andrew Chafin was summoned by Torey Lovullo to pitch the bottom of the 12th inning and retired the first two batters he faced.
With two outs, Polanco blooped a ball for a hit to no man’s land in left field. Adam Frazier then put together a great at bat after falling behind 0-2 to work a walk. The Pirates once again had the tying run in scoring position, but Chafin got Harrison to pop out to second base to end the inning.
Serial Pirate killer Jon Jay walked to start the top of the 13th. After he advanced to second base on a pitch in the dirt with two outs, the Pirates intentionally walked Peralta. This set the stage of Ketel Marte who hit a ringing single to center field on a 3-2 pitch. While Marte would be thrown out attempting to advance to second base, Jay scored and the Diamondbacks took a 2-1 lead.
T.J. McFarland was then given the job of trying to protect Arizona’s 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 13th inning. McFarland would quickly retire the Pirates in order to end the game.
Friday night’s loss was a tough pill to swallow for the Pirates. The team pitched brilliantly and made some top notch defensive plays. However, defensive miscues and terrible night from the offense sunk the team leading to their 22nd loss in their last 32 games.
The third game of the series is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Joe Musgrove will get the ball for the Pirates, while the Diamondbacks will send former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to the mound.