The Pittsburgh Pirates have now lost three games in a row
On Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates started a three-city nine-game road trip at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies. The road trip started the same way their recent homestand ended, which is on a poor note. Following Monday night’s loss to the Rockies, the Pirates have now lost three games in a row and five out of their last seven.
In a rare pitcher’s duel at Coors Field, the Bucs lost to the Rockies 2-0 on Monday night. While Colorado starter Kyle Freeland is a budding star in the National League, getting shutout at the uber hitter friendly Coors Field is always a tough pill to swallow.
Following the loss, the Pirates are now just 1-3 against the Rockies this season and 57-56 overall. The loss also drops the Bucs to 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the second and final National League Wild Card spot.
On top of Monday being a rare Coors Field pitcher’s duel, there were many baseball hit well to the outfield that died. This is also a rarity in Colorado were most times any ball hit even remotely well to the outfield is going to at least carry over the outfielder’s heads.
As for the game on the field, Pirate started Joe Musgrove retired the first 12 batters he faced while Colorado starter Kyle Freeland posted five zeroes to start the game. In fact, entering the bottom of the 5th inning a Corey Dickerson single and a double by Musgrove were the game’s lone hits.
Leading off the bottom of the 5th inning Nolan Arenado collected the first Colorado hit and he went to third on a base hit by Trevor Story. Gerardo Parra then hit a ground ball to Pirate second baseman Josh Harrison that appeared to be a tailor-made double play. Harrison, however, muffed the ball, was charged with an error, Parra reached base safely, and the Rockies owned a 1-0 lead off of an unearned run.
Following Parra’s at bat, the rain that had been falling picked up. This led to the tarp being pulled out onto the field and the game entering a rain delay.
After a 32-minute rain delay, Musgrove hit Ian Desmond with a pitch and the Rockies had the bases loaded and still no one out. After a sacrifice fly that made the score 2-0 Rockies and a pop out, David Dahl singled to right field.
Gregory Polanco fielded Dahl’s hit, came up firing, and launched an absolute missile to home plate. Elias Diaz caught the ball and tagged out Parra trying to score from second base. After Polanco’s great play, the throw beat Parra to the plate by a good three or four steps, the Bucs found themselves trailing 2-0 after 5 innings of play.
Polanco’s outfield assist was his 7th of the season. Additionally, it gave the Pirates a National League best 27 this season.
A bottom of the 5th inning that included a costly error behind him and a 32-minute rain delay proved to be the lone fly in the ointment for Musgrove on Monday night. In 7 innings of work Musgrove held the high powered Rockie offense to two runs – one earned – on four hits and zero walks. This was Musgrove’s 12th start of the season, and he has now pitched at least 7 innings in seven of those starts. Musgrove also had one of the team’s two hits when he hit a 3rd inning double.
While Musgrove pitched well, Colorado starter Kyle Freeland was lights out. In 7 shutout innings of work, Freeland allowed just two hits, he hit a batter, he walked three, and he struck out five. The young Rockie lefty is starting to emerge as one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in the National League.
Freeland’s biggest test came in the top of the 7th inning. With one out he hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch and Harrison drew a two-out walk. But Freeland would get Jordy Mercer to fly out to left to end the inning and the Pirate threat.
After Edgar Santana pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning, the Pirates entered the 9th trailing 2-0. In the 9th inning, the Rockies called upon the struggling Wade Davis. Entering Monday night the once dominant closer owned 5.09 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 12.9% walk rate, and was allowing 1.17 HR/9 this season.
Unfrotuantely for the Bucs, they saw the vinteg Davis on Monday night. Davis retired the Bucs in order while recording a pair of strikeouts to close out the game for the Rockies.
Monday’s loss was the first time the Pirates got shutout at Coors Field since 2009, and just the fourth time that has happened in franchise history. This was also, somewaht surprsingly, the first time since 2002 that the Pirates have been shutout in back-to-back games.
Game two of this three-game series is scheduled for 8:40 p.m. on Tuesday night. Jameson Taillon (3.74 ERA, 3.57 FIP) will take the ball for the Bucs, while the Rockies plan to counter with Chad Bettis (5.10 ERA, 5.08 FIP). This will be one of the coolest pitching matchups you will ever see as both Taillon and Bettis have previously battled and beaten testicular cancer.