Pittsburgh Pirates: Offense Struggles as Team Fails to Sweep Doubleheader
Following poor 1-6 start to the season the Pittsburgh Pirates had an opportunity to get back to .500 and sweep a doubleheader on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the team would come up short against the Detroit Tigers.
After securing a victory in game one of Wednesday doubleheader, scoring early in game two and having Miguel Yajure impressing in his debut, it seemed as if the Pittsburgh Pirates were on their way sweeping Wednesday’s doubleheader. However, this would not be the case.
Some poor luck and defense bit Yajure in the 4th inning. Then, the bullpen had a rare poor night for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Throwing in a poor game from the offense and when the dust settled the Pirates lost 5-2, dropping them to 8-10 on the season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to an early lead in game two of the doubleheader. After two quick outs, Bryan Reynolds worked a walk and Colin Moran laid down a bunt for a hit with the shift on him. Erik González cashed in on the two-out rally with a double down the right field line to make it 1-0 Bucs.
González has been sneaky good through the first 18 games of the season. The infielder is slugging .431 to go with a .157 isolated slugging (ISO). Factor in his superior defense at shortstop and he may be emerging over Kevin Newman as the regular at the position.
The Tigers would even the game at 1 on the first pitch in the bottom half of the 3rd inning. Niko Goodrum jumped on the first pitch from Yajure and hit it over the wall in left-center field.
Detroit struck for most of their damage in the bottom half of the 5th inning.
Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with another solo shot off Yajure. Then later in the inning with Goodrum on first, Akil Badoo hit one through the infield and a lazy effort from Gregory Polanco in left field allowed Goodrum to score all the way from first and Badoo also got into second base safely. Willi Castro added on with a base hit up the middle that would score Badoo and make it 4-1 Tigers.
The Pirates were in need of a rally and Phillip Evans did what he had to do to start it. Leading off the 6th inning he blasted a homer to left-center field to cut the deficit to two. This was Evans 4th home run of the season as he continues to be the early frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.
However, the rally would end there as the Pirates were unable to get a base runner for the rest of the night. Additionally, the Tigers would get that run right back in their half of the sixth on a Harold Castro single up the middle that scored Victor Reyes. That made the score 5-2 and it would hold up as the final.
Tough Night for the New Guys
The Pirates had two guys make debuts in game two of the doubleheader. Yajure, who the Pirates got in the Taillon trade with the Yankees, made his Pirates debut as the starting pitcher. Rodolfo Castro, a 21-year-old infielder, made his Major League debut getting the start at third base.
Castro went 0-3 with a strikeout and two groundouts. Yajure looked dominant early on, as he only needed 29 pitches to get through the first 3 innings. He even rebounded well after giving up the first home run, but started to get touched up a bit in the 5th inning.
Yajure was credited with the loss in his debut. He pitched 4 1/3 innings while striking out 4, walking a pair and giving up 2 homers. Yajure flashed a plus curveball, aggressiveness and good composure on the mound. Between some poor defense behind him and the bullpen failing to strand inherited runners, he pitched better than his final line would indicate.
Opposite Trends in Game 2
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been starting to hit the ball much better, while also having a bullpen on the other end that has been dominant in recent days. However, game two of the doubleheader followed an opposite trend.
The Pirates were only able to muster up 3 hits in the 7 inning matchup. Two of them came in the 1st inning. The only other hit was the solo home run of Evans leading off the top of the 6th inning.
The bullpen also struggled for the Pirates in game two. David Bednar entered the game in relief of Yajure with the Bucs trailing 3-1 and in dire need to get out of the inning. However, Bednar allowed his first hit with runners in scoring position and it allowed the Tigers to extend the lead to 4-1. Yajure was charged with the run.
Then in the 7th, Clay Holmes gave up two hits (a single and a double) and a run which seemingly put the thoughts of a comeback to rest.
Even after a disheartening loss in the second game of the doubleheader, the Pirates will look to rebound on Thursday afternoon to win the series. Mitch Keller (8.74 ERA, 5.36 FIP) will start for the Pirates and he will be in dire need of a strong start. The Tigers will send righty José Ureña (5.52 ERA, 3.89 FIP) to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM EST.