Offense Continues To Struggle As Pittsburgh Pirates Lose To Braves

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

To put it lightly, the Pittsburgh Pirates offense stinks right now

In order to win baseball games you must score runs. In long history of baseball no team has ever won a game without scoring at least one run and that did not change on Monday night when the Pittsburgh Pirates were shutout for the third time in five games.

Following a 1-0 loss against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night, the Pirates are back to .500 on the season at 63-63. The team has also lost six of their last eight games.

The Pirates have been getting excellent pitching of late having allowed just 20 runs in these eight games, which has covered 71 innings of work. When your pitching staff owns a 2.54 ERA over an eight game stretch you should be talking about a successful stretch. However, the Pirates have scored just 15 runs in these games, including just five runs on their current homestand, leading to the 2-6 record.

Chris Archer made his fourth start as a Pirate on Monday night and it was his shortest outing yet.

The Braves used back-to-back two-out hits from Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis to generate a 1st inning run. After this, Archer settled in to pitch a trio of scoreless innings.

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However, in a 3rd inning at bat Archer landed awkwardly on a check swing. After pitching a 1-2-3 top of the 4th inning, Archer exited the game with left leg discomfort. In 4 innings of work, Archer held the Braves to one run on five hits, a walk, and three strikeouts.

Following Archer, the Pirate bullpen continued to shut the Braves down.

In his return to the Major Leagues, Steven Brault battled to pitch 2+ innings for the Bucs. He exited with two runners on and no one out in the top of the 7th inning, but Edgar Santana cleaned it up with a double play and a pop out. Thanks to a nifty defensive play of his own, Kyle Crick fired a scoreless top of the 8th inning. Keonoe Kela then pitched a scoreless 9th inning.

Bryse Wilson made his MLB debut for the Braves on Monday night and blanked the Pirates in 5 innings of work. The best chance the Bucs had against Wilson came in the bottom of the 5th inning when Adeiny Hechavarria doubled and Brault walked with one out. Wilson was able to induce an inning ending 4-6-3 double play ball off the bat of Corey Dickerson, however.

In the bottom of the 7th inning it looked like the Pirates would finally breakthrough.

Hechavarria singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then with two outs Dickerson lined a single to center field off of Jesse Biddle. However, Atlanta center fielder Ender Inciarte fired a bullet to the plate to cut down Hechavarria keeping the score 1-0 Braves.

The bottom of the 9th inning saw the Pirates mount one last rally.

Francisco Cervelli singled to start the inning and was replaced by pinch runner Joe Musgrove. With two outs Musgrove found himself on second base, but Hechavarria would strike out to end the game.

Entering Monday night’s series opening game the Braves had lost four games in a row. During these four games, their bullpen was charged with 13 earned runs in 11 innings of work. Despite this, the Braves bullpen helped to shut out the Bucs and lead the Braves to a victory on Monday night.

It is undoubtedly a frustrating time for the Pirates and their fans right now. The team is currently wasting some great pitching that has been more than good enough to get the team back into postseason contention. Right now, it is very difficult to not question the offensive philosophy of Clint Hurdle and Jeff Branson.

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Game two of this series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday night. Ivan Nova (4.26 ERA, 4.57 FIP) will take the mound for the Pirates, while the Braves will counter with their trade deadline acquisition righty Kevin Gausman (4.22 ERA, 4.42 FIP).