Pittsburgh Pirates Lose Series Opener In Arizona

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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3. 4. 9. 8. Final

The Pittsburgh Pirates remain winless against the Arizona Diamondbacks this season

Last Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates started an 11 game in 11 days road trip. The trip started with a brutal 17-4 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals, but the team then rallied to take three of four from the Cardinals. This put the Bucs at 3-1 through the first four games of their long road trip.

On Monday night, the team started the second leg of their road trip with a trip to Chase Field in Arizona. The Pirates entered the series looking to evoke some revenge on the Diamondbacks after the Snakes swept a four-game series at PNC Park last month. That revenge will have to wait at least another day.

Despite taking a 1st inning lead, the Pirates were defeated by the Diamondbacks on Monday night by a score of 9-3. With the loss, the Pirates are now 20-18 overall this season and 3-2 on their road trip. They are now 0-5 against the Diamondbacks this season. So, the key for the Bucs is to play anyone but Arizona.

Facing one of the toughest lefties in the National League in Robbie Ray, the Pirate offense got off to a great start. Prior to Monday’s game Ray had not allowed a 1st inning run all season. This, however, would change.

After Adam Frazier reached on a Christian Walker error to start the game, Melky Cabrera ripped a one-out single to left field. Josh Bell would then extend his career best hitting streak to 13 games by singling home Frazier. Hot hitting rookie Bryan Reynolds continued the strong start to his MLB career by driving in Cabrera.

While Ray recorded a pair of strikeouts in the inning, he had to throw 26 pitches to retire the Bucs. When the dust settled, the Pirates had an early 2-0 lead.

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This continued the recent trend of Pirate hitters capitalizing on scoring opportunities. For much of the season hitting with runners in scoring position has been a major issue for the Pirates. I said time and time again that without improved hitting with RISP the team would be in trouble. To their credit, they have worked to improve this issue in recent weeks the results have been positive.

Nick Kingham made his second start of the season for the Pirates on Monday night. Earlier in the day, I wrote about how this start presented an opportunity for Kingham to seize a spot in the Pirate starting rotation. Unfortunately, he did not seize this opportunity.

Jarrod Dyson singled off Kingham to start the bottom of the 1st inning, stole a pair of bases, and scored on a David Peralta hit. After two more Diamondback hits, the game was tied and Arizona had runners on second and third with just one out.

Kingham would then get a strikeout and a fly out to get out of the inning. When the inning ended the game was tied at 2, Kingham had thrown 36 pitches, and it was obvious that it was going to be another long night for the Pirate bullpen.

Ray’s struggles continued in the top of the 2nd inning, but, unlike the 1st inning, the Pirates failed to capitalize.

With one out he walked Kingham and this was followed by Frazier lining a single to left field. This made Frazier 4-for-5 in his career against Ray with the lone at bat that did not end in a hit being his 1st inning at bat that saw him reach on an error. Ray would then strikeout Starling Marte and get Cabrera to pop up to end the inning.

In the 2nd inning Kingham continued to prove he does not belong on a MLB roster.

Alex Avila walked to start the inning, Dyson singled, Eduardo Escobar tripled, and it was 4-2 Diamondbacks. Perlata then doubled to make the score 5-2 Diamondbacks after 2 innings of play. Arizona tacked on another run in the 3rd inning to make it 6-2 and a solo home run by Ecobar in the 4th made it 7-2.

At no point in the night did it appear that Kingham was fooling anyone. Nor at any point did he look like a legitimate MLB starting pitcher. The Diamondbacks hit one rocket after another off of him and he generated just four swings-and-misses during his outing.

In 4 innings pitched Kingham allowed 7 runs on 10 hits. While he walked just one, he also had just two strikeouts. More times than not Kingham hit his spot, the problem is his pitches are not very good. So, even when he’s hitting his spots his pitches are still likely to get hit, and hard, by MLB hitters.

After Kingham, it was Michael Feliz that Clint Hurdle would summon from the bullpen. Feliz allowed a run to score on a balk, before handing the ball to Clay Holmes. In 2 innings of work, Holmes allowed a solo home run to Walker. Montana DuRapau pitched a scoreless 8th inning.

In the top of the 7th inning the Pirates made a run at getting back into the game.

Facing Jimmy Sherfey, the Bucs loaded the bases with no one out. Sherfey would rally to strikeout three batters in a row to end the inning. The Pirates are now a miserable 3-for-26 with the bases loaded this season.

The Pirates can not start Steven Brault or Kingham again. They just simply can not. Neither of these pitchers should be on a MLB roster and neither is competitive on the mound. Additionally, any time either of them start you know your bullpen is going to get taxed.

Luckily, Chris Archer is set to return from the injured list on Wednesday which will bump one of these two out of the starting rotation. That will still leave one of the two in the rotation, however, and this needs to change. It could be the newly acquired Chris Stratton, it could be top prospect Mitch Keller, or it could be someone else completely. Regardless, neither Brault nor Kingham can make another start for this team.

Next. Tempering Expectations For Keller. dark

The second game of this series is scheduled for 9:40 on Tuesday night. Joe Musgrove (4.20 ERA, 2.96 FIP) will be looking to bounce back from consecutive poor starts, while the Diamondbacks will send Luke Weaver (2.98 ERA, 2.91 FIP) to the mound. Weaver was the centerpiece of the Paul Goldschmidt deal this offseason, and so far this season he was shown why.

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