Bullpen Falters In Pittsburgh Pirates Loss Against The Mets
By Marty Leap
Yet another late inning bullpen collapse led to a Pittsburgh Pirates loss on Saturday night.
After defeating the New York Mets 8-4 on Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to secure their first series victory in nearly month on Saturday night. For much of the night it appeared the Pirates would do just that. Unfortunately, bullpen woes and bad defense would prevent this.
Following a 7-5 loss against the Mets on Saturday night, the Pirates are now 4-17 since the All-Star Break. This abysmal slide as caused the team’s overall record to plummet to 48-62 on the season. Yeah, people need fired.
Last Sunday, Chris Archer allowed 5 runs to the Mets in the 1st inning. On Saturday night, the 1st inning was a problem again.
Amed Rosario reached on an infield hit, Michael Conforto walked, Robinson Cano singled, and with one out the Mets had the bases loaded. Archer then missed his spot with an 0-2 slider that Wilson Ramos ripped to center for a run-scoring single. Archer then got a strikeout and a come backer to the mound to clean up the mess. While he limited the Mets to just 1 run, it took 33 pitches to do so.
The newly acquired Marcus Stroman made his Mets debut on Saturday night. His debut inning with the Mets did not go according to plan.
Adam Frazier singled to start the game, went to third on a Bryan Reynolds single, and then scored on a Starling Marte single. After Josh Bell ripped a 109 MPH single to load the bases, Jose Osuna walked to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
After the Osuna walk, Kevin Newman hit a weak dribbler that looked destined to bring in a run. But Stroman made an incredible play to nail Marte at the plate. Jacob Stallings then popped out to end the inning with the Pirates ahead 2-1.
While Stroman was able to keep the Pirates off the board, he continued to struggle and allow base runners. He stranded a pair of base runners in the 2nd inning and another in the 3rd.
The in the bottom of the 5th inning, Reynolds, who finished 4-for-4 with a double and a walk, led off with said double and went to third base with just one out on a wild pitch. This wild pitch was also ball four to Bell, and ended Stroman’s night.
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Lefty Luis Avilan was summoned to replace Stroman. Avilan struck out Colin Moran, walked Osuna to load the bases, and then hit Newman in the foot. This hit by pitch scored Reynolds, and made the score 3-1 Pirates. It also ended Avilan’s night.
Following the hit by pitch, Mets manager Mickey Callaway once again went to his bullpen. The move paid off as Stallings grounded out to end the inning. While the Pirates led 3-1 through 5 innings, they were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had left eight runners on base.
In his Mets debut Stroman lasted just 4 2/3 innings. He allowed 3 runs, the last of which scored after he exited the game, on seven hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. To be honest, Stroman was luck the damage done by the Pirates was not worse.
After a tumultuous 1st inning, Archer settled in to go 6 strong. After the 1st inning Archer allowed just two more base hits, one of which came on an infield hit. In 6 innings of work he allowed the 1st inning run on five hits, two walks, and he struck out six. Best of all, the National League’s leader in home runs allowed did not allow a home run.
This was one of Archer’s best starts of the season. As is always the case when he turns in a strong start, Pirate fans, myself included, will hope this is the game that gets Archer back on track. There were certainly positives signs that could be the case.
With Keone Kela starting to serve his 10 game suspension on Saturday, the Pirate bullpen will be short manned in high leverage situations the next week and a half. In the 7th inning with the team ahead 3-1, acting manager Tom Prince went with Michael Feliz.
Feliz would bookend the inning with strikeouts, but there was also a pinch hit solo home run by Jeff McNeil and a Rosario doubled mixed in. When the dust settled, the Bucs went to the 7th inning stretch leading 3-2.
Facing ex-Pirate Justin Wilson, the Pirate offense threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the 7th inning.
Marte singled to start the inning and stole second base with one out. On a ball four to Moran, Marte swiped third base giving him his first two stolen base game of the season and the Pirates runners on the corners with just one out. Wilson then got pinch hitter Melyk Cabrera to hit into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
After the Cabrera double play the Pirates were 2-for-11 with RISP and they had left nine runners on base. This was about to come back to bite them.
As the team clang to slim 3-2 lead, Kyle Crick took the mound for the Pirates in the 8th inning. Unfortunately, Crick would not hold onto this lead for long. The second pitch of the inning resulted in a Robinson Cano double and the third pitch of the inning was a 2-run home run by Wilson Ramos. Just like that, the Mets led 4-3. Crick then retired the next three batters he faced.
Chris Stratton took over in the 9th inning and was burnt by terrible defense and bad luck. Bell committed an error to start the inning, Rosario reached on an infield hit, and then with two outs Cano was intentionally walked. This came after Stratton got a big strikeout of Pete Alonso with runners on second and third and just one out.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Ramos hit a routine fly ball to right field. For some unknown reason, Reyes was put into right field earlier in the game. Reyes complete misplayed Ramos fly ball and just flat out missed it. This led to a 3-run double for Ramos and a 7-3 lead for the Mets.
Edwin Diaz took over for the Mets in the 9th inning. Reynolds collected his fourth hit of the night in the inning and Marte launched a 2-run home run. Marte’s career high tying 20th home run cut the Mets lead to 7-5.
Outside of Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela, the bullpen has been a problem for the Pirates for much of the season. This continued on Saturday night when the bullpen inherited a 3-1 lead, and proceeded to allowed 6 runs across the 7th and 8th innings leading to a 7-3 loss.
The third and final game of this series is scheduled for 1:35 on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates will send Joe Musgrove (4.23 ERA, 4.11 FIP) to the mound as the team searches for their first series victory since taking two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers July 5 – 7. The Mets will counter with the God of Thunder Noah Syndergaard (4.10 ERA, 3.47 FIP).