Pittsburgh Pirates Fall to San Diego Padres in Series Opener

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 12: Trevor Cahill #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on April 12, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 12: Trevor Cahill #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on April 12, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

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Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated by the San Diego Padres in the first game of a four-game series at PNC Park

After winning two games in a row over the Chicago Cubs to capture their first series victory of the season the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to capture their third consecutive win on Monday night. In the first of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres, the Pirates were defeated by the Friars 6-2.

With the loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 3-7 through the first 10 games of the season. While the Pirates were unable to make it three wins in a row, there were still some positives to come out of Monday night’s loss. Unfortunately, there were also some negatives.

Trevor Cahill Bounce Back

Making his second starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates veteran right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill was looking to bounce back. In his first start of the season Cahill allowed 7 runs on 9 hits and a pair of home runs in 4 innings pitched against the Cincinnati Reds.

Due to signing late Cahill had an abbreviated Spring Training and this showed against the Reds. Monday night against the Padres, Cahill looked like a completely different pitcher. He looked like the pitcher the Pittsburgh Pirates were hoping for when they signed him.

Cahill threw 82 pitches in 5 innings of work. In these 5 innings Cahill allowed just 1 run on 3 hits, 2 walks, no home runs and he struck out 8. His fastball velocity was up a tick from his last start and his breaking pitches had more bite to them.

While it will take a few starts to get Cahill’s ERA back down to respectability, this was a good first step. If Cahill can pitch anywhere near this well with consistency it will help to save the Pirate bullpen, moving forward he should be able to throw 100 pitches per start and log extra innings, and it could also lead to Cahill being a good trade chip for the Pirates in July.

Derek Shelton Shows Confidence in Luis Oviedo

With the game tied at 1 entering the 6th inning Pirate manager Derek Shelton showed faith in rookie, Rule 5 Draft selection Luis Oviedo. For the second consecutive outing of his Oviedo took over with the game tied. While he pitched 2 strong innings against the Reds the last time he took the mound with the game tied, things did not go as well on Monday night.

In 1.2 innings of work Oviedo allowed 5 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks and a home run. He also failed to record a strikeout. While Oviedo struggled on Monday night it was still good to see Shelton showing faith in his young righty.

Oviedo is just 21-years-old and as recently as 2019 was a top 10 prospect in the Indian farm system. The Pittsburgh Pirates have high hopes for Oviedo and view him as a potential starting pitcher down the road.

While Shelton tabbing Oviedo there was a gamble, even though it did not work out, it was still encouraging to see. For the Pittsburgh Pirates the 2021 season is all about playing for the future and giving long players an opportunity to perform in big roles and put a claim on a future role with the club. Oviedo may have struggled on Monday night but Shelton showing confidence in him can only be a good thing for Oviedo’s confidence and his future.

Shortstop Woes Continue

Monday afternoon on the site we discussed how the shortstop position appears to be on its way to being a problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, Monday night, the woes continued, and they did so as a double whammy.

Kevin Newman got the start at shortstop, while the team’s other options for shortstop, Erik González, made the start at third base. The slow start to the season for both Newman and González continued in the loss as the two combined to go 1-for-7 at the plate with 3 strikeouts.

Entering the season shortstop was a potential trouble spot for the Pirates. Well, these concerns appear to be coming to fruition. Both Newman and González are below league average hitters in their MLB careers, which raises concerns over rather or not either of them can pull out of their slumps.

With no other options on the immediate horizon, it appears the Pirates will have to take their lumps with Newman and González for the foreseeable future.

Wilmer Difo Pinch Hit Escapades Continue

In a move that few people likely expected coming into the season, utility man Wilmer Difo, who was not originally on the Opening Day roster, has been a productive hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates thus far. This is especially true when it comes to Difo and pinch hitting.

Difo picked up a pinch hit triple in Monday night’s loss, raising his slash line on the season to a healthy .417/.417/1.000 in 12 plate appearances. As a pinch hitter, he is now 2-for-6 this season with the aforementioned triple and a solo home run.

While Difo was not promoted to the active roster until Ke’Bryan Hayes went on the injured list, with the way he is hitting it will be difficult to option Difo back to the alternate training site, or Triple-A depending on when it occurs, when Hayes returns. The veteran utility man appears to be hitting his way into a more permanent roster spot with the Pirates.

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Next Up

Game two of the series is scheduled for 6:35 PM EST on Tuesday night. Chad Kuhl (6.43 ERA, 5.00 FIP) will make his third start of the season for the Pirates and he will be opposed by Blake Snell (1.86 ERA, 3.18 FIP). This will be the former American League Cy Young Award winners third start with the Padres.