The Pittsburgh Pirates five-game home stand got off to a disastrous start against the Oakland A’s on Friday night
Entering play on Friday, the Oakland A’s had lost six games in a row and were winless on their current road trip. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates were coming off a sweep of the Texas Rangers and looking to start a five-game home stand on the right foot. Well, unfortunately, the complete opposite of this would happen.
The A’s got out of their rut in a big way on Friday night, dominating the Pirates in an 14-1 victory. This loss ended the Pirates modest two game winning streak, and drops the Bucs to 2-9 in their last 11 games. It also dropped the Pirates back under .500 on the season at 14-15.
In the 1st inning, things were looking good for the Bucs.
After Joe Musgrove pitched a 1-2-3 top half of the inning, Adam Frazier walked to start the second half. A one-out single by Melky Cabrera and a fielder’s choice from Josh Bell made the score 1-0 Pirates after an inning play. However, the wheels completely fell off the cart for the Pirates after this.
Musgrove got Oakland slugger Khris David to hit a routine ground ball to third base to begin the top of the 2nd inning. But what would follow was a throwing error by Jung Ho Kang and the opening of the flood gates.
After a pair of singles and a HBP, the game was tied at 1 and the A’s had the bases loaded with no one out. This is when A’s catcher Josh Phegley‘s big night would begin. Phegley hit his first of two 3-run doubles, making the score 4-1 Oakland.
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The A’s got another run in the inning when pitcher Brett Anderson attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt and Musgrove quickly got to the ball and fired to third base in an attempt to retire Phegley. When Phegley realized what was going on he retreated to second base, but the Pirates still had a chance to retire Anderson at first base. Unfortunately, Kang would commit his second throwing error of the inning. This led to another A’s run, and a 5-1 Oakland lead.
After allowing 2 more runs in the top of the 3rd inning, Musgrove exited with the Bucs trailing 7-1. In 2 2/3 innings of work Musgrove allowed 7 runs (5 earned) on six hits, two walks, and he recorded a strikeout.
Early on it looked like Musgrove was on his way to yet another start. But after the first of two throwing errors by Kang in the 2nd inning, Musgrove could never get back into the groove he had for the first four batters of the game. Musgrove missed some spots and created some of his own problems, but it would have been nice to see what had happened had Kang successful thrown out Davis to start the 2nd inning.
Friday night was an uncharacteristically bad start from Musgrove. In fact, it was his worst start as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. You can expect Big Joe to be a man on a mission when he takes the ball against the Rangers on Thursday afternoon.
Nick Kingham was tabbed to replace Musgrove and attempt to cool the A’s bats. Kingham recorded a strikeout to end the 3rd inning and strand the bases loaded. After that, things did not go well for Kingham.
He allowed 4 runs in the 4th inning, including Phegley’s second 3-run double on his way to collecting 8 RBIs, to make the score 11-1 A’s. In 2 1/3 innings pitched, Kingham allowed 4 runs on on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Michael Feliz made his second appearance of the season for the Pirates in the top of the 6th inning. After allowing a lead off single, Feliz got a fly out and a double play to end the inning. Feliz’s strong start to the season at Triple-A has carried over to the Major Leagues. If he has put it all together, with his filthy stuff that would be a massive boost to the Pirate bullpen.
Oakland slugger Matt Chapman hit a 2-run home run off of Francisco Liriano in the 7th inning. His 9th long ball of the season made the score 13-1 A’s. While he has had some issues with control, Liriano entered this outing with a 0.00 ERA this season. The veteran lefty bounced back with a 1-2-3 8th inning, which included a pair of strikeouts.
Richard Rodriguez pitched the 9th for the Bucs and continues to struggle with the long ball. After allowing a solo home run to Phegley, Rodriguez has now allowed 6 home runs this season after allowing just 5 all of last night. If Rodriguez does not get things sorted out soon, then he can not continue to pitch in high leverage situations. The issue is with Nick Burdi and Edgar Santana on the IL, the Pirates do not have very many other options at the moment. This is another reason why Feliz figuring things out would be a huge boost for the bullpen.
Odds are, Kingham, Liriano, and Rodriguez will all be unavailable tomorrow. As a result, the Pirates will almost be forced to make a roster move for a reliever. Not using a position player to pitch at some point was a stupid move by Pirate manager Clint Hurdle.
One positive to come from this ugly game was Bryan Reynolds recording a 6th inning single to keep his hitting streak alive. With the hit, Reynolds extended his hitting streak to 10 games to start his MLB career. This puts him one game short of tying Gregory Polanco for the team record for the longest hitting streak to begin a career.
Reynolds just continues to kill baseballs for the Pirates. After lining out to right field in his second at bat of the game, Reynolds base hit left his bat at over 106 miles per hour. Reynolds is looking like a player that will bloom into a long time starter in the outfield for the Pirates. The play of Reynolds is a big reason why the Andrew McCutchen trade looking like a good one for the Bucs was one of the key takeaways from the series in Texas.
As fans saw at PNC Park on Friday night, baseball is an impossible game to predict. Entering the day the A’s were stuck in a major funk and struggling offensively. Meanwhile, the Pirates were coming off arguably their two best offensive games of the season. Despite these two factors, the A’s rolled over the Bucs by the tune of 14-1.
Games like this one will happen over the course of a 162 game MLB season. That does not make them any easier of a pill to swallow for fans. But one of the beauties of baseball is there being 162 games, meaning you never have to wait long to bounce back from games like this one.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 on Saturday night. Trevor Williams (3.38 ERA, 3.53 FIP), while the A’s will give the ball to rigthy Chris Bassitt (0.75 ERA, 2.79 FIP) in just his third start of the season. Saturday night’s game will be televised nationally on FS1.