Pittsburgh Pirates Swept By Dodgers For 8th Consecutive Loss
By Marty Leap
The old saying goes ‘when it rains, it pours’. Well, right now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are stuck in a category 5 hurricane.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have not won a baseball game in over a week. Sigh. Following a 7-6 loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates have now lost 8 consecutive games.
On top of losing 8 games in a row, the Pirates have been swept in back-to-back series. These losses have dropped the team to a season worst two games under .500 at 12-14. They also fell to 2-8 against the National League West this season.
The Pirates quickly jumped out to a lead. Melky Cabrera started his big day at the plate with a one-out solo home run in the top of the 1st inning. With this home run, the Pirates had scored first in each game of this series.
After the Dodgers struck back to tie the game in the bottom half of the 1st inning, the Pirate bats went back to work.
Elias Diaz reached on a throwing error, Cole Tucker had a bunt single on a ball LA catch Russell Martin should have let go foul, and Pablo Reyes picked up a run-scoring single to make it 2-1 Pirates. Later in the inning, Cabrera crushed his second home run in as many innings. His 3rd long ball of the season made the score 5-1 Pirates.
Giving runs back has been an issue for the Pirates all season. After it happened in the bottom of the 1st inning, that made it three times in the last five innings in which the Pirates scored that their pitchers gave at least one run back the next half inning.
To the credit of Trevor Williams, this did not happen following the team’s four-run outburst. Williams fired a quick, efficient 1-2-3 bottom of the 2nd inning. This kept the momentum in Pittsburgh’s corner.
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Unfortunately, this is where Williams keeping the Dodgers at bay would end.
Williams allowed a solo home run to Cody Bellinger in the bottom of the 3rd to cut the Pirate lead to 5-2. The lead was then cut to 5-4 when he missed his spot with an 0-2 change up to Corey Seager in the bottom of the 4th inning. Seager would hit the pitch into the right-center gap for a two-run double. Max Muncy then made up for his error earlier in the game by blooping an 0-2 pitch into right field to plate Seager, tying the game at 5.
After allowing Cabrera’s second home run, Hill would settle in. The veteran lefty shook off the rust he had from missing the beginning of the season and retired the final 13 batters he faced. After looking like he may not get through 3 innings, Hill settled in and went 6 innings without issuing a walk and he struck out six.
Like Hill, Williams allowed 5 runs in 6 innings of work. He also recorded six strikeouts, but issued a walk. The big difference between the two was that Williams was spotted a 5-1 lead and could not hold it. Nine times out of ten, if Trevor Williams is given a 5-1 lead he will help his team cruise to victory. But on Sunday, a poor 5th inning from Williams allowed the Dodgers to tie the game.
Even though it was not his best outing, Williams still went 6 innings. He has gone at least 6 innings in each of his six starts this season.
Julio Urias replaced Hill in the top of the 7th inning and allowed a two-out pinch hit single to Bryan Reynolds. This ended a streak of 15 consecutive Pirate batters retired by Dodger pitching, and extended Reynolds hitting streak to begin his MLB career to seven games. After Urias struck out Adam Frazier to end the inning, it was Richard Rodriguez’s turn to pitch for the Pirates.
Rodriguez issued a walk to start the inning, and then bad defense showed up yet again. Joc Pederson hit a ground ball that could have been a double play, and it was a play the Pirates needed to get at least one out on. Instead, Josh Bell’s throw to second base hit the lead runner, ricocheted into the outfield, and gave the Dodgers runners on second and third with no one out.
With three consecutive left-handed hitters looming for the Dodgers and the game on the line, the smart thing to do would have been to go to Felipe Vazquez. Unfortunately, Clint Hurdle rarely does the smart thing when it comes to bullpen management.
Rodriguez got Seager to pop out, but then allowed a flare hit to Muncy that gave the Dodgers a 6-5 lead. He was then lifted for lefty Francisco Liriano.
Liriano got into a 3-2 count against Bellinger, before allowing a run-scoring single. He then retired the next two batters to end the inning. However, when the 7th inning dust settled, the scoreboard read 7-5 Dodgers as the home team held their first lead of the afternoon.
Bullpen management has always been an issue for Hurdle during his tenure as Pirate manager. Each of the last two nights he mismanaged the bullpen, and in each night it was a major factor in the Pirates losing.
Cabrera’s big day continued in the 8th inning when he singled to start the inning and got to third on an error by A.J. Pollock. After Gregory Polanco walked, the Bucs had men on the corners and no one out. Bell then made up for his error the previous half inning by singling home Cabrera, cutting the LA lead to 7-6.
At this point, it was Dave Roberts turn to join in on the bullpen mismanagement fun. He left Urias despite him being over 40 pitches and losing effectiveness. Unfortunately, the Pirates failed to take advantage. Urias got a pair of fly outs and a strikeout to end the inning with the Dodgers still leading 7-6.
Keone Kela pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th inning, to send the Pirates to the 9th trailing by just a run. Unfortunately, one of game’s best was waiting in the form of Kenley Jansen. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Jansen issued a walk to Frazier. This brought the go ahead run to the plate in the form of the red hot Cabrera. The Melk Man would stay hot, doubling into the left field corner to put runners on second and third with two outs.
The veteran’s 24th career four hit game would no be enough, however. Jansen rallied to strikeout Polanco to end the game, sealing the 7-6 Dodger victory.
There is not much left to say about the Pirates right now. They are not hitting well enough with RISP, the defense has been subpar all season, the team is gutted by injuries, and Hurdle’s in game management has left a lot to be desired this season. All of this has added up to an 8-game losing streak for the Pirates.
To show how bad things are going right now, the 6 runs the Pirates scores on Sunday tied a season high. It was also equal to the amount of runs the Pirates had scored in their previous six games combined.
Following an off day on Monday, the Pirates will head to Arlington to begin a two-game series against the Texas Rangers. Jordan Lyles (2.05 ERA, 3.68 FIP) will toe the rubber for the Bucs as they look to regroup and end their skid. Former Pirate farmhand Adrian Sampson (4.50 ERA, 5.45 FIP) will start for the Rangers. First pitch from Globe Life Park is scheduled for 8:05.