Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in a game that saw something you likely never saw before in game one of a day/day doubleheader
When you go to or watch a Major League Baseball game you may see something that you have never seen before. In the day tilt of Tuesday’s day/night doubleheader between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals this was likely the case.
With Yadier Molina on second base and two outs in the 5th inning, it appeared that he fell asleep on the bases and was picked off by Pirate starting pitcher JT Brubaker. Well, on his way off the field Molina decided to plead with the umpires that Brubaker balked.
Even though balk, or non-balk, calls are not reviewable, the umpires came together to discuss the play. With balks being umpire discretion, the umpires decided to to give Molina what he wanted and ruled Brubaker balked.
Upon further review it appeared that Brubaker may have indeed balked. That said, that is not a reviewable play which is what made it such a frustrating play for Brubaker and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Molina was only base due to reaching on one of three errors by Pirate shortstop Diego Castillo. This included errors on back-to-back plays, making Castillo the first Pirate player to commit an error on consecutive plays since Kevin Newman in April 2019.
Later in the inning Molina would score an unearned run on what was, umm, an interesting sequence of events. You can watch the play below.
In the end, Brubaker pitched much better than his final line. He pitched just 5.1 innings, allowing 2 earned run on 7 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. Brubaker once again rode his sinker/slider combo to success. He generated 13 swings-and-misses, and had plenty on instances of making Cardinal batters look uncomfortable.
For the first time in his MLB career Brubaker did not throw a four-seamed fastball in a start. In addition to his slider and sinker, he also used his curveball. He threw 67% of his pitched (71 of 106) for strikes. If not for poor defense behind him, let alone the debacle with Molina, Brubaker looked primed to go 7 innings for a second consecutive start.
This continued the recent success of Brubaker. He has now pitched 56.2 innings in his last 11 starts, posting a 3.84 ERA in these starts. He’s allowed 8 home runs (1.28 HR/9) during this stretch, while walking 8.3% of batters faced and striking out 22.9%.
Tyler Beede steps up for the Pittsburgh Pirates
When Brubaker’s day ended, the Cardinals had two runners on base and just one out in the 6th inning. Tyler Beede was summoned from the bullpen. Beede would strand the two runners he inherited and this was just the start of a strong relief outing for Beede.
Beede pitched 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He did not allow a hit, walked a batter and struck out 2. While he only had a pair of strikeouts they were both huge. The first came with two on and one out in the 6th inning, the other came when the Cardinals had a runner on third base and just one out in the 8th inning.
Pirate offense struggles
As if the game could not get any crazier, Yu Chang, who has struggled mightily since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, launched his 1st home run of the season. This blast came in the 7th inning, getting the Pirates on board while cutting the Cardinal lead to 3-1. It was part of a multi-hit performance for Chang.
Outside of the Chang home run, there was not much to write home about for the Pirate offense. Bryan Reynolds continued his red hot June, going 2-for-3 with a walk. While Reynolds and Chang combined to go 4-for-6 with a walk and a home run, the rest of the Pirate line was 3-for-25 with a pair of walks and a double. That is not going to get the job done.
The weirdness continued in the bottom of the 8th inning when Daniel Vogelbach appeared at first base. This was the first time this season Vogelbach had played in the field, and he quickly showed why committing a fielding error on the first ball the Cardinals put in play with Vogelbach at first base.
Catcher Jason Delay, who was added to the active roster on Monday, made his MLB debut in the game. Delay started behind the dish and went 0-for-2 with a walk. He also looked good defensively behind the plate. Delay became the 6th catcher used by the Pirates this season, the most they have used in a season since using 8 catchers in 2011.
Outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba made his MLB debut as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning. With two outs in the inning he roped a double to left field for his first MLB hit. This brought the tying run to the plate for the Pirates, but Cal Mitchell was then retired to end the game.
Bryse Wilson (7.53 ERA, 4.29 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Pirates in the night cap of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Mile Mikolas (2.93 ERA, 3.48 FIP) is set to start for the Cardinals. First pitch from Busch Stadium is scheduled for 7:45 PM ET.