The Pittsburgh Pirates opened up a series against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday and dropped their first game against the Indians in an extra inning bout.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (4-14) returned to action on Tuesday and hosted the Cleveland Indians (13-9) at PNC park. The pitching matchup for the evening was the Pirates’ young JT Brubaker against Cleavland’s Carlos Carrasco.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates are already spiraling out of the playoff picture, this game held significance as Brubaker is still pre-arbitration and could actually be a viable starter for the Pirates over the next few years. Coming into the game, Brubaker owned an ERA of 3.38 over one start and two relief appearances. Carrasco’s ERA sat at a sharp 3.22 over four starts.
The Pittsburgh Pirates struck first in the series opener with a Kevin Newman double and Colin Moran single. Moran somehow continues to find a hole through the harsh shift that every team enforces against him on the right side of the infield.
The Indians attempted to respond in the second when Tyler Naquin led off with a double. Naquin was nearly erased due to poor base-running on a routine fly ball, but the throw in to second was bobbled by Adam Frazier. Brubaker was fortunate to get out of this inning without giving up a run. While he made a strong pitch to strikeout Roberto Perez, he left far to many off-speed pitches over the center of the plate.
Brubaker would not get as lucky in the third as his lead off double to Cesar Hernandaz would result in Hernandaz scoring. In fact, the third inning ended up being a full-on struggle for Brubaker as he would walk two batters and give up an additional hit. While the score would only read 3-1 after three Indians were finally retired, the inning could have been far worse as both Jarrod Dyson and Erik Gonzalez made magnificent plays to earn two of the three outs.
Derek Shelton, the Pirates’ skipper, had seen enough of Brubaker after three innings and opted to go with starter Derek Holland out of the bullpen in the fourth. In hindsight, this was a really good call by Shelton as it immediately cooled off the Indians and forced them to look at pitches from a left-hander after two times through the rotation from a right-hander.
Holland and Carrasco would cruise through the middle innings of this game, but the Pirates would break the silence in the 5th to tie the game 3-3 with more run production from the top of the order. Josh Bell would pick up both RBIs on a single hit with authority. The sixth inning would feature new pitchers on both sides of the diamonds with Chris Stratton taking the ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stratton looked extremely sharp as he pitched through the 6th inning without getting into trouble.
The bullpen continued to look strong late into the game as Nik Turley would pitch a scoreless 7th inning, Richard Rodriguez would pitch a scoreless 8th inning, and the long lost Keone Kela in the 9th inning. Each of these strong outing were needed by the Pirates’ offense as it would take the team all the way until the 9th inning to threaten the go ahead run.
Sadly, with runners on first and second with no outs, Dyson would get picked off at second base. Newman would come up to the plate and with the poise of Newman-2019 would smash a single to right. A swing that would have won the Pirates the game if Dyson was not picked off.
Into extra innings the game went! Sam Howard would pitch the 10th inning for the Pirates and the Indians put the Pirates out of their misery quickly. Carlos Santana would crush a three run homer, putting the Indians up 6-3.
6-3 would be the final score and the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their 15th game of the season. While losing games to receive a higher draft pick may be the predominate strategy in PNC Park this season, the game was still discouraging in the sense that Brubaker showed no improvements in this start. Over the three innings he pitched, Brubaker gave up three runs and never really had control of his offerings. Hopefully, the Pirates can get back on track Wednesday!