The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off their six-game homestand with a loss against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night
The Pittsburgh Pirates entered Tuesday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies on the heels of a 7-4 road trip. Entering the game the team was hoping to continue the momentum that had built up with their great road trip. Unfortunately, the team would fail to do so.
Following another rocky start from Chris Archer, the Pirates fell to the Rockies by a score of 5-0 in their series opener. With the loss, the team is now 24-21 this season.
While Archer did not pitch well on Tuesday night, it was not all his doing, either.
In the top of the 2nd inning Daniel Murphy was on third base with one out. He broke for the plate on a groundball to first base, got stuck in a rundown, and looked dead to rights. However, things would go awry defensively for the Pirates.
Pirate catcher Francisco Cervelli waited too long to make a throw back to third baseman Colin Moran, who was positioned poorly as he needed to be back further to give Cervelli a better throwing lane, and he bounced the throw off of Murphy’s helmet. The ball then rolled past Moran, allowing Murphy to score. This gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Trevor Story hit a solo home run in the 3rd inning to make the score 2-0 Colorado. This home run, however, just cleared the wall in left field going off the end of the glove of a fully extended Bryan Reynolds.
Archer allowed 2 more runs in the 4th inning, but these two were completely his making.
With one out and the bottom of the lineup due up, Archer issued back-to-back walks to Colorado’s 7th and 8th hitters. After a sacrifice bunt, Charlie Blackmon recorded the biggest hit of the game when he hit a 2-run triple that sliced away from Starling Marte into the Northside Notch. This gave the Rockies a 4-0 lead.
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In 5 innings of work Archer allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. On the season he now owns a 5.80 ERA and a 5.16 FIP.
Since he has done it in the past, and as recently as late last season and early this season when he had a nine start stretch in which he posted a 2.72 ERA, 3.64 FIP, and a 29.4% strikeout rate while averaging 6 innings per start, Archer must start pitching like a top of the rotation starting pitcher. When the Pirates acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays last July that is what they were expecting to get and they paid a price that reflected as much.
Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams both being on the injured list only adds to the important of Archer pitching well. The Pirates entered play on Tuesday in possession of a National League Wild Card spot. If Archer does not begin to pitch more effectively, then, in my opinion, the team will not remain in contention as the calendar flips to summer. He is too important to this team to continue to struggle.
Young righty German Marquez started for the Rockies. Marquez had struggled his past few starts, but when he is on Marquez can be darn near unhittable. Unfortunately for the Pirates, he was on. In 8 scoreless innings pitched, Marquez allowed just three hits, he walked a batter, and he struck out seven. He also drove in Colorado’s 5th run with a groundball single in the top of the 8th inning.
When Archer’s night ended, Chris Stratton replaced him. In 3 innings of work Stratton allowed a run on four hits, two walks, and a strikeout. Michael Feliz was then summoned to pitch the 9th inning. Feliz, who outside of one disastrous outing against the Texas Rangers has pitched well, would retire the Rockies in order.
Dud games like this one will happen during the course of a 162 game MLB season. That is not the concerning part for the loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The concerning part of the loss is the continued struggles of Archer. As we delved into above, Archer must be better moving forward. He absolutely must. If not, the team will not contend into the summer. Also, if not, that trade will go down as one of the worst in franchise history.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 on Wednesday night. Jon Gray (4.73 ERA, 4.66 FIP) will make the start for the Rockies. As of this writing, Clint Hurdle had yet to announce who would start for the Pirates.