Pittsburgh Pirates Drop Fourth Straight as Offensive Woes Continue

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 01: Jacob Stallings #58 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is doubled off at first base in the second inning against Keston Hiura #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at PNC Park on July 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 01: Jacob Stallings #58 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is doubled off at first base in the second inning against Keston Hiura #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at PNC Park on July 1, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently stuck in an offensive rut and it has been the leading factor in the team now losing four games in a row

Coming off being swept by the Colorado Rockies, while also producing one of the worst offensive outputs in a series at Coors Field in the ballpark’s history, the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to bounce back on Thursday night. Things would not according to plan as the Pirate offensive woes continued in a 7-2 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers.

With the loss in the first game of their four-game series, the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to 29-51 on the season. With the midway point of the season on the horizon, the Pirates are currently on pace for a 59-103 season.

Since playing arguably their best series of the season to take three of four from the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates are now 0-4. In these four losses they have scored just 6 runs. It goes without saying that 6 runs in 4 games simply is not good enough.

Common trends continue to haunt Wil Crowe

Wil Crowe‘s overall numbers this season are not pretty. In 12 games, 11 starts, and 50.1 innings pitched he now owns a 6.26 ERA, 5.84 FIP, 10.9% walk rate and he’s allowed home runs and a rate of 1.97 HR/9. One of the big reasons his numbers are poor is due to his struggles the first and third time through a batting order.

The first time through the Brewer lineup on Thursday night opposing batters were 3-for-8 with a double, a triple and a walk against Crowe. This resulted in the Brewers grabbing an early 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning. On the season, opposing batters are now 28-for-87 with a pair of doubles, a triple, 5 home runs allowed, 2 batters hit and 9 walks issued, resulting in 16 earned runs allowed.

Facing the Brewer lineup for a third time Crowe allowed a single, induced a ground out and then issued a walk before being lifted from the game. The third time through an order this season Crowe has now faced 35 batters. Against these 35 batters faced Crowe has allowed 9 hits, including a double, a triple and 3 home runs. He’s walked 6 batters and struck out just 8.

Crowe’s final line on Thursday night was good enough to keep the Pittsburgh Pirates in the game, but you would like to see him start going 5+ innings more consistently. Crowe allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, 3 walks, no home runs allowed and 6 strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched in Thursday night’s loss.

When a pitcher struggles when they face a lineup for a second or third time, this usually indicates that the pitcher is destined for a long-term home in the bullpen. Even with his struggles the first time through the lineup, odds are, Crowe’s best chance of MLB success is still as a reliever.

Ben Gamel tattoos a pair of baseballs

Facing his former team Ben Gamel was tattooing baseballs on Thursday night. In his first trip to the plate Gamel hit a 96.4 MPH rocket to right-center field that appeared ticketed for the seats. At worst, it appeared that Gamel had hit a run-scoring double. Instead, after a great week Milwaukee center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. caught the ball on the warning track and threw out Jacob Stallings going back to first base to complete the double play.

Then in his second at-bat, Gamel left no doubt. The left-handed hitting Gamel hit a 103.1 MPH missile that did land in the seats. The solo home run by Gamel, his 3rd of the season, cut the Brewer lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the 5th inning.

As Noah wrote about earlier this week, when Gamel was first acquired he was viewed as nothing more than a depth pick up for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That said, Gamel continues to be a solid contributor for the Pirates.

Pirate injuries continue to mount

Prior to the start of the Thursday night’s game the Pittsburgh Pirates placed Colin Moran on the 10-day injured list and recalled outfielder Jared Oliva from Triple-A Indianapolis. Additionally, outfielder Gregory Polanco was unavailable in the game due to a minor injury.

Then in the 7th inning of the game, Erik González exited with what the Pirates called right side discomfort. If González’s injury were to constitute an IL stint, which it may if it’s an oblique issue which seems possible, it will be interesting to see what the Pittsburgh Pirates will do. Odds are, it would lead to Cole Tucker or Wilmer Difo returning to the Majors. Due to being on the 40-man roster, Tucker would be the likely choice.

The bullpen struggles

For most of the season the bullpen has been a strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thursday night, however, the bullpen had a rare poor performance.

In Thursday night’s loss the Pirate bullpen pitched 4.1 innings. Across the bullpen’s 4.1 innings of work they allowed 5 runs on 5 hits, 4 walks and a pair of strikeouts.

This outing also marked the continued recent struggles of Richard Rodríguez who allowed 3 runs in the 9th inning. The righty, who has been at the center of plenty of trade speculation, has now been scored upon in 5 of his last 11 outings. Hopefully, Rodríguez can put together a strong stretch from now until the July 30 trade deadline to maximize his trade value.

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What’s next?

Game two of the four-game series will see the Pittsburgh Pirates send JT Brubaker (3.82 ERA, 4.33 FIP) to the mound where he will be opposed by Brewer righty Adrian Houser (4.16 ERA, 4.81 FIP). First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.