Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes Debut Spoiled With Extra Inning Loss

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7. 4. Final. 8. 9

The exciting debut of top prospect was spoiled by an extra inning loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night

Tuesday night at PNC Park the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs kicked off a three-game series. While the month of September may not have a lot of excitement for the Pirates, Tuesday night’s game generated plenty of excitement and buzz. This was due to top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes making his long awaited MLB debut, more on his impressive debut later.

Unfortunately, the unforgettable debut from Hayes was spoiled by the Cubs. Following a 8-7 loss in 11 innings, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now just 10-23 on the season. This includes being 0-4 against the Cubs.

Chad Kuhl Struggles

Thus far, the 2020 season has been a great bounce back season for Pirate starter Chad Kuhl. After missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, Kuhl entered Tuesday night’s start with a 2.52 ERA.

Tuesday night, however, Kuhl would struggle, turning in his worst start of the season. Kuhl pitched 4+ innings, allowing 4 runs on six hits, two walks, a home run, and three strikeouts. It was not all on Kuhl, though, as the Cubs scored a run in the 2nd inning due to Erik Gonzalez bobbling a ball and failing to turn a double play, and the 4th run they scored off Kuhl came when Tyler Bashlor failed to strand the runner after taking over for Kuhl in the 5th inning.

Throughout the start Kuhl was battling with fastball command, but his slider and curveball still looked good. Hopefully, Kuhl will rebound in his next start and continue to build on what has, overall, been a strong season thus far.

Early Offensive Woes

Through the first 4 innings of the game the Pittsburgh Pirates had plenty of opportunity to score. The team had four hits, including a double, and two walks through the first 4 innings of the game. However, they went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The Pirates did manage to score a run in the first 4 innings. This run, however, came due to a ground out with a runner on third base. While the offense did eventually break through, had they done more with their early game opportunities the game could have had a different ending.

6th Inning Offensive Break Through

After the Pittsburgh Pirates went down in order in the 5th inning, the offensive finally broke through in the 6th inning.

With one out in the inning Jacob Stallings singled, Colin Moran walked and Hayes doubled for his first MLB hit. Adam Frazier then recorded a run-scoring single, cutting the Chicago lead to 6-3. Jose Osuna then got in on the fun with a run-scoring double.

Gonzalez was then robbed by Ian Happ. On a ball that was slicing away from Happ and looked like, at worst, a two-run single, Happ made a terrific diving catcher to rob Gonzalez. But it was still a sacrifice fly, and it cut the Pirate lead to 6-5.

Ke’Bryan Hayes Shines In MLB Debut

In his long awaited MLB debut, Hayes stole the show. The organization’s top prospects had two strong at bats his first two times to the plate. Unfortunately, neither produced a hit for the third baseman.

During the team’s big 6th inning, Hayes hit a 108.5 MPH bullet for a run-scoring double. After recording his first MLB hit, Hayes would up that in his next at bat. Leading off the 8th inning, and following a 1 hour, 11 minute rain delay, he led the inning off with a home run to center field. His first career home run tied the game at 6.

In his long overdue debut Hayes lived up to the hype. He hit the ball hard, was racking up extra base hits and looked smooth in the field at third base. It was glimpse into the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a glimpse that had to make fans smile. One fan who was certainly smiling was former Pirate infielder, and Ke’Bryan’s dad, Charlie Hayes.

Hayes became the first Pirates since Walter Mueller in 1922 to record multiple extra base hits in their MLB debut. He continued to flash his skill set in the bottom of the 10th inning when he scored on a head sup base running play that included a terrific slide at home plate, to tie the game at 7. With that run scored, Hayes became just the 8th player in MLB history with at least two extra base hits and three runs scored in his MLB debut.

Geoff Hartlieb Breakout Season Continues

One of the biggest positive surprises for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season has been reliever Geoff Hartlieb. Entering Tuesday night’s game Hartlieb owned a 2.63 ERA, 21.7% strikeout rate and he has allowed just one home run in 13.2 innings of work.

Hartlieb took over with a runner on third and two outs in the 7th inning and got a ground out to end the inning. He issued a walk in the 8th inning, but cleaned it up with a double play on his way to posting a zero.

So far this season Hartlieb has climbed the Pirate bullpen totem pole. In doing so, he has locked down a spot a member of the core of the Pirate bullpen moving forward, but for the near and long term future.

Bell Can No Longer Play First Base

Josh Bell has worked hard to improve his defense at first base. No one can deny that. That said, not only has it not improved, if anything, it has gotten worse.

Tuesday night the Pirates failed to get an out in the 9th inning because Bell can not throw to second base. He just can not do it.

Then in the 10th inning and the infield in, Kyle Schwarber hit a ground ball right at Bell. Well, the ball went off Bell’s glove as he failed to field it. The ball then deflected to Kevin Newman who threw home, causes the runner on third who was breaking to retreat. Jason Heyward then hit a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs a 7-6 lead.

Had Bell fielded the ground ball the Pirates would have gotten an out on the play. Rather it had been at the plate or at first base, there would have been an out. Had they gotten the out, Heyward’s fly out would have ended the inning and kept the game tied at 6.

There is ZERO reason for Bell to continue to play in the field. None. Nada. Zilch. In fact, with the universal DH this season playing Bell in the field is a fireable offense. There’s also a long list of those for manager Derek Shelton.

If the Pirates had even a bad defensive first baseman, the Cubs would not have scored in the 10th inning, and the Pirates would have walked it off in the bottom half of the inning. Bell, however, is something far worse than even bad defensively at first base.

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What’s Next

The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 on Wednesday night at PNC Park. Derek Holland (7.62 ERA, 10.16 DRA) will make the start for the Bucs, while the Cubs will counter with rghy Kyle Hendricks (4.09 ERA, 4.11 DRA).