Can we go back to the week before the All-Star Game?
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals played the rubber match of their three-game series at Busch Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, things did not go the way of the Pirates who continued their miserable play since the All-Star Break.
Despite leading entering the 7th inning, the Pirates were defeated by the Cardinals to drop the series. With the loss, the Pirates are now 1-5 since the All-Star Break and 45-50 overall.
The scoring started quickly on Wednesday afternoon. Starling Marte launched a solo home run with two outs in the top of the 1st inning. His 16th home run of the season gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the 1st, the Cardinal offense went to work. With two outs and a man on second base, Tyler O’Neill fisted an 0-2 pitch from Chris Archer into right field to tied the game at 1.
Archer then got Dexter Fowler to hit what looked like a routine pop out to end the inning. However, Colin Moran continued his season long struggles with pop ups allowing the ball to drop. After the Moran error, Archer recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
In the 2nd inning, Archer had to work hard again.
An infield hit and a double put runners on second and third with no one out. Following a walk and a strikeout, Archer surrendered a sacrifice fly that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. After another walk reloaded the bases, Archer struck out O’Neill looking to end the threat.
Archer would help his cause at the plate on Wednesday afternoon. He recorded a single in both the 3rd and 4th inning. His 4th inning single came after a two out intentional walk to Jacob Stallings, and scored Melky Cabrera to tie the game.
After Kevin Newman singled to load the bases, Bryan Reynolds would continue to do Bryan Reynolds things. The rookie sensation ripped a 2-run single, giving the Pirates a 4-2 lead after 3.5 innings of play.
After the 2nd inning Archer got into a bit of a groove. He retired nine in a row before allowing a two-out solo home run to O’Neill in the 5th. His 3rd home run of the series cut the Pirate lead to 4-3.
Archer rebounded from the O’Neill home run to get the final out of the 5th. He then retired the Cardinals in order in the 6th, which was capped off by strikeout number eight.
In 6 innings of work Archer allowed 3 runs on five hits, two walks, a home run, and eight strikeouts. He also retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.
This was Archer’s second strong start in as many outings since the All-Star Break. Archer said he wanted to go back to being more like the pitcher he was with Tampa Bay and focus more on missing bats than pitching to contact. So far, that adjustment appears to be working. If the Pirates can get a big second half from Archer, that would be a big step toward lingering around in the NL Wild Card race.
When Archer’s day ended, Francisco Liriano replaced him looking to protect a 1-run lead. After allowing a single and issuing a walk, Liriano was lifted with one out for Michael Feliz. Feliz would proceed to serve up a 3-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt, giving the Cardinals a 6-4 lead.
The Pirates would make noise against Carlos Martinez in the 9th inning. The Bucs scored a run and had runners on the corners with two outs. However, they would fail to capitalize. Losing the game 6-5.
After a day off on Thursday, the Pirates will kick off a seven-game home stand by hosting the Philadelphia Phillies in the first of three. Jordan Lyles (5.16 ERA, 4.44 FIP), who has been terrible since mid-May, will start for the Pirates. Meanwhile, Gabe Kapler and the Phillies will counter with long time Pittsburgh public enemy number one Jake Arrieta (4.54 ERA, 5.04 FIP).