Joe Musgrove struggles again as injury-riddled Pittsburgh Pirates lose 17-4 Thursday night against the Cardinals.
Coming off a brutal defeat to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates (17-17) began an 11-game road trip against all winning teams on Thursday night, starting with a four game set against the St. Louis Cardinals (22-16).
After two quick outs in the top of the first, Gregory Polanco got things brewing with a solo shot off Michael Wacha to right-center field over the Cardinals bullpen, his second homer of the year and his first in St. Louis since July 4, 2016.
With a 1-0 lead before toeing the rubber, Joe Musgrove looked to bounce back after his worst start of the season last time out against the Oakland Athletics. After a smooth 1-2-3 first inning, Musgrove got knocked around for three rapid runs in the second inning, thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles by Yadier Molina and Dexter Fowler, all coming with zero outs.
The rally would not end there, as after Musgrove retired the next two batters, he proceeded to walk Matt Carpenter, which was followed by an RBI single from Paul Goldschmidt, giving the Cards a 4-1 lead.
In the ensuing inning, Adam Frazier got on with a single to start things off. Starling Marte followed with a strikeout, but Polanco came through with an RBI double to the right-center field gap, allowing Frazier to score all the way from first, decreasing the deficit and making the score 4-2.
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Musgrove found himself in more trouble in the bottom of the inning, as Marcell Ozuna walked to and Molina reached on an infield single, leaving the Cardinals in prime position to strike with runners on first and second and just one out. Fowler did just that, lacing a single to right field to steal back a run, making the score 5-2.
The bleeding continued briefly, as Kolten Wong reached on an RBI fielder’s choice before Wacha struck out to end the inning, with the score at 6-2 after three innings of play.
Control issues persisted for Musgrove, who once again walked the leadoff hitter for the third inning in a row, and then walked the second batter, putting runners on first and second without any outs.
That would be enough for manager Clint Hurdle, who pulled Musgrove, as he ended his outing with 3+ innings, allowing six runs (two runners inherited) on six hits, five walks, and three strikeouts.
On to relieve was Clay Holmes, fresh off getting called up from AAA in wake of the injury to Keone Kela and the DFA of Tyler Lyons. In 10 appearances out in Indy this season, Holmes owns a 6.32 ERA to go along with 13 strikeouts and 15 walks.
Holmes would walk Paul DeJong on four pitches, loading the bases. With nowhere to go, Holmes managed to strikeout Ozuna, but then walked Jose Martinez. Molina followed with a long RBI single off the right-center field wall to tack on another run, making it 8-2.
The struggles would extend to the Pirates defense, as Josh Bell whiffed on a easy chopper by Fowler, which allowed two runs to score, as the floodgates completely opened with the Cardinals up 10-2.
The inning from Hell continued as the Red Birds picked up one more run on an RBI single from Wong before Holmes finally escaped the fourth with the Buccos trailing 11-2.
Down nine, the Pirate offense came out swinging, as after a pair of singles by Kevin Newman and Marte, Polanco came through once again with another double, this time down the right field line, his third hit and his third RBI. Bell followed with a groundout, scoring Marte from third, inching the Pirates closer 11-4.
Jumping to the bottom of the sixth, Dovydas Neverauskas came on to hopefully give the Pirates some length out of the pen in a game seemingly out of reach. However, he would struggle, yielding five more runs, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by Ozuna, putting St. Louis up 16-4.
Montana DuRapau made his major league debut in the bottom of the seventh, pitching a clean inning and recording his first career strikeout at the big league level. DuRapau, along with Holmes, was also called up to fill a roster spot, and unlike Holmes, DuRapau has enjoyed a stellar year at AAA so far. The former 32nd round pick made 12 appearances to the tune of a 0.63 ERA with 18 strikeouts and five walks.
Things would not go as smooth for DuRapau in the bottom of the eighth, however, as he found himself in a bases loaded jam with nobody out. Despite that, the rookie managed to escape relatively unscathed, giving up just one run in the inning.
The score would remain through the top of the ninth, as the Pirates fall to St. Louis in the first game of the series by a score of 17-4.
Aside from Polanco, who finished 3-for-4 with a HR and two RBI doubles, the Pirates struggled to hit with RISP, going just 1-for-9 in such chances. This makes the Bucs a paltry 30-for-135 with RISP in their last 17 games.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals collected 17 runs on 16 hits while hitting 11-for-25 with RISP. Much more optimal than the Pirates’ results.