The Pittsburgh Pirates post-break woes continued on Friday night
Friday night at PNC Park the Pittsburgh Pirates and their cross-state foes the Philadelphia Phillies kicked off a three-game weekend set. Both teams sent struggling starting pitchers to the mound on Friday, which could have led people to believe Friday’s game would be filled with offensive fireworks. However, this was not the case as both starters turned in strong bounce back outings.
In front of 34,117 fans, the Pirates vital seven-game home stand got off on the wrong foot. Entering this stand the Pirates are 6.5 games out of first place in the National League Central and 4.5 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot. In order to be in a position to act as buyers with the July 31st trade deadline approaching, the Pirates likely need to go at least 5-2 on this home stand. Following Friday night’s 6-1 loss, they will need to go 5-1 the rest of the way to accomplish that.
After being one of the best starting pitchers in the National League through the first month and a half of the season, Pirate starter Jordan Lyles entered Friday’s game with an ERA north of 10 in his last seven starts. Yesterday, it was reported that Lyles could be on the trading block. If he is, he raised his trade value with this start.
After starting the game with 4 scoreless innings of work, Lyles allowed a home run to Adam Haseley leading off the 5th inning. He also allowed a one out single to Scott Kingery, but quickly cleaned it up by inducing an inning ending 5-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Jean Segura.
In the 6th inning with a man on first and two outs Lyles fired a 2-2 pitch to Cesar Hernandez that should have been called strike 3. But since MLB umpires are incapable of doing their jobs (#FireEveryUmpire) it was called a ball. This was followed by Hernandez singling off the glove of Adam Frazier on a play that Frazier should have made. Unfortunately, these two bouts of bad luck would end the night for Lyles. Richard Rodriguez was then summoned from the bullpen and he struck out Maikel Franco to end the inning.
Friday night was the best start Lyles has had in over two months. In 5 2/3 innings pitched Lyles allowed a run on seven hits, a walk, a home run, and seven punch outs. With proper umpiring or better defense, he would have gone 6 full innings.
For the Phillies, long time Pittsburgh public enemy number one Jake Arrieta made the start. Entering the start Arrieta owned a 4.54 ERA and a 5.01 FIP this season.
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In the 2nd inning, Corey Dickerson singled and stole second base. Then with two outs, Elias Diaz broke out of a slump of his own with a run-scoring single to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. This snapped an 0-for-16 streak for the Bucco backstop.
Like Lyles, Arrieta allowed just a single run in 5 2/3 innings of work. With two outs in the bottom half of the 6th Josh Bell walked, Colin Moran doubled, Dickerson was intentionally walked, and the bases were loaded. Ex-Pirate Juan Nicasio was then summoned by Gabe Kapler, and he got Kevin Newman to bounce back to the mound to end the inning.
Rodriguez remained in the game for the 7th inning. A combination of poor control and poor managerial decisions by Clint Hurdle led to Rodriguez’s 19 consecutive scoreless outings streak ending.
With one out in the inning Rodriguez allowed a pinch hit single to Brad Miller and he walked Kingery. Segura then hit a high chopper back to the mound, but Rodriguez was only able to retire the lead runner. Bryce Harper then stepped to the plate.
Not only is Harper one of the best hitters in baseball, he is one of the best hitters in baseball with runners in scoring position. With the right-handed hitting Rhys Hoskins on deck, intentionally walking Harper was an easy decision to make. Instead, Hurdle had Rodriguez pitch to Harper who proceeded to rip a single to center field. This gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead entering the 7th inning stretch.
Kyle Crick took over for the Pirates in the 8th inning. Crick was recently removed from pitching in high leverage situations due to his struggles this season. Maybe it’s just me, but trialing by a run in the 8th inning seems like a pretty high leverage situations. But that’s neither here nor there.
Crick issued a pair of walks and allowed a single. This led to Segura stepping to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. The Philly shortstop bounced a ball to Bell who threw to Crick covering first base. However, Crick tip toed to first instead of running through the bag which allowed Seguara to reach on an infield single and made the score 3-1 Phillies.
Following the Segura infield hit Clay Holmes replaced Crick. Holmes would get Harper to bounce back to the mound to end the inning.
Crick has now walked 30 batters in 34 innings of work this season. He owns a dreadful 17.2% walk rate and is averaging 7.94 BB/9. Due to his lack of control, Crick is currently providing no value to the already beaten and battered Pirate bullpen.
In the 9th inning things came undone for Holmes and the Pirates. A pair of one out singles, a throwing error by Holmes, a wild pitch, and a Haseley double ran the score to 6-1 Phillies.
With the loss on Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 1-6 since the All-Star Break. This completely undoes all the great work they accomplished with their 14-7 run leading up to the break and then some. The loss also knocks them to 45-51 on the season. Right now, all signs point toward the Pirates being sellers at month’s end.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 on Saturday night. Joe (4.31 ERA, 3.78 FIP) will start for the Pirates after Trevor Williams was scratched on Friday night with what the team is calling severe flu like symptoms. Zach Eflin (4.16 ERA, 4.64 FIP) will make the start for the Phillies.