Pittsburgh Pirates Lose 5th Game In A Row

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a fourth home run is hit in the second inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 11, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a fourth home run is hit in the second inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 11, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

This is going to be a long summer, folks!

Due to what was expected to be one of the best pitching staffs in the National League, there was optimism that the Pittsburgh Pirates could build upon the 82-79 record that they posted last season. Well…. basically everything that can go wrong with the pitching staff this season has. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, the Pirates have wound up with one of the worst pitching staffs in the NL.

Following a 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, the Pirates have now lost five games in a row. This knocks the team to a season worst six games under .500 at 30-36, and they’re just 6-16 in their last 22 games played.

In what has started to become a common theme, the Bucco bats scored early on Tuesday night.

Kevin Newman singled to start the game, Starling Marte walked, and both hitters moved up on a wild pitch by Mike Foltynewicz. This led to a 2-run single by Josh Bell, giving the Pirates a quick 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately, this lead would not last long.

After Chris Archer retired the Braves in order in the bottom of the 1st inning, the home run ball would continue to haunt him in the 2nd. Archer, who had allowed 11 home runs in 53 2/3 innings of work entering the game, allowed back-to-back home runs to Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis to lead off the inning.

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Archer would strikeout Austin Riley, only for the Braves to go back-to-back again. This time, it was Brian McCann and Ozzie Albies. Just like that, it was 4-2 Atlanta. This made Archer the first pitcher in Fran house history to allow four home runs in one inning.

Fastball command has been a major issue for Archer all season long. This issue continued in the 2nd inning. The first three home runs came  on center cut fastballs, while the Albies blast came on a change up that was right down the shoot. Until Archer fixes his fastball command issues, there is no chance of him turning what has, thus far, been a dreadful 2019 season around.

In the top of the 4th inning the Pirates got a run back when Colin Moran doubled home Bell. Foltynewicz would bounce back to strikeout Gregory Polanco and Adam Frazier, and then Archer as well after intentionally walking Jacob Stallings.

Newman led off the 5th inning and went to third base on a base hit by Corey Dickerson. This was follower by Starling Marte reaching on a fielder’s choice, which tied the game 4.

After the 2nd inning, Archer settled in. He kept the Braves off the board in 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. However, with one-out in the 6th the home run ball bit him again. McCann launched another home run, making the score 7-4 Braves.

On Tuesday night Archer pitched 6 innings and allowed 7 runs on eight hits, two walks, eight strikeouts, and five home runs allowed. 25 of the 40 runs Archer has allowed this season have been via the home run ball, and he is now the first pitcher in franchise history to allowed four home runs in one inning.

The recently recalled Dovydas Neverauskas took over for the Pirates in the bottom of the 7th inning. The much maligned Neverauskas appeared to be on his way to another poor outing after the first two Braves hitters of the inning reached. However, he was able to put a foot down to keep the score at 7-4.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle would empty his bench in the 8th inning. Jung Ho Kang, Melky Cabrera, Bryan Reynolds, and Elias Diaz all pinch hit. Kang would single, get replaced by Cabrera after a fielder’s choice, and Reynolds would triple home Cabrera. This cut the Braves lead to 7-5.

Empty the bench was an interesting strategy on Hurdle’s part. However, it was a smart and worthwhile gamble. The Pirates were at the back half of their lineup in the 8th inning, meaning the top of the lineup would be due up in the 9th which would lessen the odds of needing a pinch hitter. It also helped to produce a 5th Pirate run.

In need of work, setup man Kyle Crick took the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning. In his first outing since last Tuesday against the Braves, Crick posted a zero and struck out a pair. This sent the game to the 9th inning with the Pirates trailing 7-5.

As Newman was stepping into the box looking for his fourth hit of the night and Atlanta closer Luke Jackson was firing the last of his warm up pitches, the ground crew was given orders to put the tarp on the field. As the rain intensified in Atlanta, the game went into a rare 9th inning rain delay.

After a near two hour rain delay, the game was called due to the weather. With that, the Pirates lost a rain shortened affair against the Braves.

Tuesday night was the third game this month in which the Pirates have allowed at least five home runs. This marks the first time in a season, yes, an entire season, that the Pirates have allowed at least five home runs in a game three times. Furthermore, in their last 15 games they have allowed 42 runs. This is the most home runs ever allowed in a 15 game stretch in franchise history.

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Game three of the series is scheduled for 7:20 on Wednesday night. Mitch Keller (13.50 ERA, 4.39 FIP) will take the ball for the Pirates in his second career MLB start. Hopefully, this will be the start of Keller solidifying a permanent spot in the Pirate rotation. Meanwhile, arguably the best rookie pitcher in baseball – Mike Soroka (1.38 ERA, 2.70 FIP) – will make the start for the Braves.