Pittsburgh Pirates Fall To St. Louis Cardinals In Extra Innings


The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off their four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals with an extra innings loss on Monday night

Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals kicked off their four-game series with an extra innings affair at PNC Park. This marked the second extra innings game in as many days for the Pirates.

On top of it being the second extra innings game in as many days for the Pirates, it was their second extra innings loss in as many days. Following a 6-5 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Pirates are now 46-53 on the season.

The Pirates had a golden opportunity to blow the game open in a hurry. With one out in the 1st inning the Pirates had loaded the bases against St. Louis starter Daniel Ponce de Leon. This is where things went awry.

Colin Moran struck out on three pitches in one of the worst at bats you will ever see from Moran. He swung through two fastballs in the meaty part of the strike zone, and then he looked at a knee high strike for strike three. Ponce de Leon then struck out Corey Dickerson as well to end the inning.

Shockingly (insert sarcasm face here) failing to capitalize in the 1st inning would burn the Pirates.

With the Pirates now trailing 1-0, the offense threatened against Ponce de Leon again in the 3rd.

Adam Frazier and Josh Bell each drew their second walks of the game. Frazier then scored on a Moran single. The bounce back at bat by Moran tied the game at 1.

While the Pirates had scored just 1 run off of Ponce de Leon, he found himself 86 pitches through 3 innings of work. This led to his night ending after just 3 innings. It was great to see the Pirates chase the opposing starting pitcher in the opening game of a four-game set after just 3 innings of work. However, the offense should have scored more than just 1 run in those 3 innings.

After having his start pushed back two days due to flue like symptoms, Trevor Williams returned to the mound for the Pirates on Monday night. Williams had a 3.33 ERA and a 3.33 FIP when he went on the injured list in May, but he entered this start with an ERA over 9 in four starts since coming off the IL. In these four starts he had allowed eight home runs after allowing just four in his first nine starts.

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In Monday night’s start, Williams would continue to struggle with the long ball. After needing just 26 pitches to get through a scoreless 1st and 2nd inning, Williams allowed a solo home run to Matt Wieters in the 3rd inning. In the 4th inning he allowed another run when Wieters hit a sacrifice fly. These two innings led to his pitch count climbing to over 70 pitches as Williams allowed four base runners, in addition to the Wieters home run, in these innings.

Facing long time Pirate nemesis Michael Wacha, the Bucs offense would quickly fire back in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Elias Diaz singled with one out. After he moved to second base on a Williams bunt, Frazier drew his third walk of the night. Bryan Reynolds then doubled off the Clemente Wall to tie the game at 2.

After Williams pitched a scoreless 5th inning, his night ended at 90 pitches. The fact he was coming off a battle with the flu probably play a role in him not going back out to the mound for the 6th inning.

In 5 innings of work Williams allowed just 2 runs, he allowed five hits, he walked a pair, and he struck out seven. This was by far the best start Williams has had since coming off the IL. Hopefully, it will prove to be a step toward Williams getting back on track.

Michael Feliz was tabbed to replace Williams. He would work around an error by Bell, thanks to a double play ball, to pitch a scoreless 6th inning. Feliz’s scoreless inning was followed by a 1-2-3 7th inning from Francisco Liriano.

The strong work from the Pirate bullpen continued in the 8th inning. Richard Rodriguez retired the Cardinals in order in the 8th. This included a pair of strikeouts for the Pirate righty who continues to be excellent since returning from the minor leagues on Memorial Day.

In the top of the 9th inning Kyle Crick retired the Cardinals in order, which included a pair of strikeouts. This makes it back-to-back 1-2-3 innings for Crick who has struggled mightily the past two months. Hopefully, these two outings are the start of Crick getting back on track.

In the bottom of the 9th inning the Pirates got a two out infield hit from Melky Cabrera. As Cabrera was replaced by pinch runner Joe Musgrove, the Cardinals went to the bullpen to bring in a left-handed pitcher to face the left-handed hitting Frazier.

New Cardinals pitcher Chasen Shreve hit Frazier with a pitch. This put runners on first and second with two outs for Reynolds. Shreve fell behind Reynolds 3-0, but Reynolds then helped Shreve out by swinging at would be balls for both the first and third strike of his at bat. Leading to Reynolds striking out to send the game to extra innings.

As extra innings began, the good work of the Pirate bullpen ended. Clay Holmes issued a walk, allowed a single, hit a batter, and the Cardinals had the bases loaded with just one out. Holmes then allowed a grand slam to Paul Goldschmidt to give the Cardinals a 6-2 lead. With the bases loaded and two outs Holmes night would mercifully come to an end, as Luis Escobar came in and recorded the final out of the inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Pirates made things interesting.

Facing Shreve, Starling Marte doubled to start the inning. Bell then doubled to plate Marte. This was followed by Jung Ho Kang‘s 10th home run of the season. This cut the Cardinal lead to 6-5, and brought Shreve’s night to an end.

Carlos Martinez, pitching for the fourth time in five days, replaced the lefty. He promptly allowed a single to Dickerson, which brought the winning run to the plate. Newman then reached on an error by the usually sure handed Paul DeJong, to put two men on with no one out.

Following the Newman at bat, Clint Hurdle got in the way.

Sacrifice bunting with position players is stupid. Hurdle called for one in the 9th inning on Sunday and it played a big role in the Pirate loss. Monday night, Hurdle repeated his folly.

With two runners on and no one out, Hurdle had Elias Diaz bunt. Diaz’s bunt went awry and led to Dickerson being thrown out at third base.

Bad coaching from the Pirates would then continue. Pinch hitter Jacob Stallings hit a ripping single to right field. Third base coach Joey Cora should have held Newman at third base to load the bases with one out. Instead, he sent Newman and he was nailed at the plate for the second out of the inning. Frazier then flew out to end the game.

You have to feel bad for the Pirate players tonight. They made their mistakes, but they also battled their asses off. In the end, the Pirate coaching staff got in the way with the terrible decisions to bunt and send Newman. Tonight’s game was yet another game on the list of reasons why the Pirates need to clean house with their coaching staff.

Play after the All-Star Break continues to go horribly wrong for the Pirates. Since the break, the Pirates are now 2-8 dropping their overall record on the season to 46-53. As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, prepare for the Pirates to sell.

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The second game of this series is scheduled for 7:05 on Tuesday night. Chris Archer (5.36 ERA, 5.59 FIP) will look to continue to build off a pair of strong starts since the All-Star Break. The Cardinals will counter with young righty Dakota Hudson (3.57 ERA, 5.15 FIP).