Bad Defense Sinks Pittsburgh Pirates In Loss Against The Cardinals
By Marty Leap
Bad defense continues to be one of many issues for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Coming out of the All-Star Break the Pittsburgh Pirates appeared to be in a good spot. The team won 14 of their final 21 games before the break, and were just 2.5 games out of the top spot in the NL Central and the second NL Wild Card spot. Well, the team’s hot streak has certainly come to an end.
Over the weekend, the Pirates were swept by the Chicago Cubs in ugly fashion. This dropped the team to 44-48 overall on the season, 5.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. Despite the sweep, they were still just 3.5 out in the NL Wild Card race.
Well, on Monday night, the team’s ugly play from Wrigley Field carried over to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Bucs kicked off a three-game series against the Cardinals with an ugly loss that included both poor defense and base running. This loss, the Pirates have dropped to five games below .500 on the season at 44-49.
It did not take long for bad defense to burn the Pirates.
With two outs in the bottom of the second inning Pirate starter Joe Musgrove walked Paul Goldschmidt, this walk was followed by a Tyler O’Neil line drive to left field. O’Neil’s ball was hit hard, but should have been a routine out. However, defending Gold Glove winner Corey Dickerson would make the first of three defensive blunders.
Not only did Dickerson miss O’Neil’s liner he also allowed it to get past him. The ball getting past Dickerson allowed Goldschmidt to score and O’Neil to get into second base. This gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.
In addition to costing Musgrove an unearned run, he needed 35 pitches to get out of the 1st inning. This was just the start of a long night for Musgrove, much of which was not his doing.
After a scoreless 2nd inning, more bad defense would burn Musgrove in the 3rd inning.
Leading off the inning Matt Carpenter hit a ground ball that should have been an out. However, Josh Bell missed the ball allowing Carpenter to reach base safely. Then with one out, Dickerson dropped a routine fly ball hit by Goldschmidt. This allowed Carpenter to score.
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O’Neil then reached on an infield hit that went off of Musgrove’s glove. This was a ball Musgrove should have let go. Had he let it go it would have been a routine ground ball to Adam Frazier for an out. This infield hit moved Goldschmidt to third base, allowing him to score on a sacrifice fly giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead after 3 innings of play.
The Pirate woes spilled over to base running in the 4th inning.
With one out Bryan Reynolds doubled. Starling Marte then lined a ball to right field that Dexter Fowler made a fantastic running, leaping grab on to rob Marte of extra bases and the Pirates of a run. On the play, Reynolds should have taken a few steps and waited to watch the ball. Had it dropped, he would have scored easily. Instead, Reynolds was halfway around third base when Fowler caught the ball leading to an easy inning ending double play.
In the 5th inning, the Cardinals would blow the game open. With two outs and a man on base, Musgrove allowed a 2-run home run to O’Neil. This gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. Musgrove then walked long time Pirate killer Kolten Wong to bring his night to an end.
In 4 2/3 innings pitched Musgrove allowed 5 runs, 4 of which were earned, on five hits, three walks, a home run, and seven strikeouts. Musgrove was hurt badly by his defense in this start. Of the 5 runs he allowed, only 2 should have been earned. The poor defense also ran up his pitch count which hurt him.
Musgrove pitched much better than his final line on Monday night. He deserved better than what his defense gave him.
Michael Feliz replaced Musgrove, and retired all four batters he faced. This included a pair of strikeouts. This continued what has been a sneaky good season for Feliz as he now owns a 3.58 FIP and a 27.8% strikeout rate in 27 innings of work.
Kyle Crick took the mound in the 7th inning as he looks to get back on track after struggle for over a month. Things continued to go poorly for Crick. He would issue a walk and allow a 2-run home run to O’Neil to run the score to 7-0 Cardinals. After allowing a single, Crick’s night ended after 2/3 of an inning.
Crick now owns a 18.8% walk rate, 5.71 FIP, and is allowing 1.39 HR/9 this season. In fact, he’s already allowed more home runs this season (5) than he allowed all of last season (3). Right now, Crick is not providing much value to this team. And under no circumstance can he pitch in any sort of high leverage situation.
Making his second MLB outing, Luis Escobar replaced Crick and got the final out of the 7th inning. Escobar also pitched a scoreless 8th inning. This gives Escobar 3 1/3 scoreless innings of work through his first two MLB appearances.
St. Louis starter Mile Mikolas was excellent on Monday night. He tossed an eight hit complete game shutout for the Red Birds. He did not walk a batter and he struck out three.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a bad spot right now. After playing well in the three weeks leading to the All-Star Break to put them in a position to surge in the NL Central. Instead, they have started their post-break schedule by losing four in a row. This four game losing streak has included some ugly baseball from the Pirates.
The second game of this series is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Dario Agrazal (2.81 ERA, 6.08 FIP) will make the start for the Pirates, while the Cardinals will counter with Jack Flaherty (4.64 ERA, 4.74 FIP).