JT Brubaker turned in his second consecutive poor start, putting the Pittsburgh Pirates in an early hole that they never recovered from in a 6-3 loss
Ebbs and flows, ups and downs, that’s how a Major League Baseball season goes. This can be especially true when you are one of the worst teams in baseball the way the Pittsburgh Pirates are.
Saturday afternoon the Pirates were playing the second game of their three-game weekend series in Baltimore against the Orioles. After losing seven games in a row, the Pirates swept the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this week. Now, they have lost back-to-back games.
After falling 1-0 in Friday night’s series opener the Pittsburgh Pirates were defeated 6-3 on Saturday afternoon, falling to 1-11 all-time at Camden Yards. With the loss, the Pirates are now a lowly 43-64 on the season as they continue to limp through the season.
Second consecutive poor JT Brubaker start
For much of the season JT Brubaker has been arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates best starting pitcher. Through his first 19 starts this season Brubaker owned a 3.96 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 9.4% walk rate, 22.6% strikeout rate and he had allowed just 10 home runs in 100 innings pitched.
However, Brubaker has hit some turbulence his last two starts. After struggling mightily against the Philadelphia Phillies last Sunday, Brubaker turned in another poor start Saturday afternoon. It was clear early on that Brubaker did not have his best stuff, he battled some command issues and it would lead to a short outing.
Brubaker lasted just 4 innings, allowing 3 runs on eight hits, two walks and six strikeouts. In the 1st inning Brubaker allowed a run, which led to the Orioles leading the entire game. However, Brubaker nearly got out of it before allowing a two-out run-scoring single. If he gets the final out of that inning who knows where the start would have gone.
To Burbaker’s credit, he prevented things from being worse because things could have been much worse. A big reason that Brubaker was able to limit damage was due to him still generating 15 swings-and-misses, which was a big factor in his six strikeouts.
After allowing a combine 10 earned runs in just 8.1 innings pitched across his last two starts, Burbaker’s ERA on the season has ballooned from 3.96 to 4.49. Overall, it has still be a strong season for Brubaker. That said, after he hit a wall last season it will be important for him to avoid that this season and to still finish the season strong.
Eric Stout struggles, allows Baltimore’s lead to grow
Lefty Eric Stout took over for Brubaker in the 5th inning. When Stout took the mound the Pirates had cut the Baltimore lead to 3-2. Stout would fail to keep the Pirates within a run, struggling in his inning of work.
Stout faced six Oriole batters, allowing a pair of runs on two hits and he hit a batter. Stout also committed a throwing error trying to pick Ryan McKenna off second base, after McKenna plated a pair with a two-run pinch-hit double, but, thankfully, the error would not hurt the Pirates.
Throughout the season it has been a struggle for the Pittsburgh Pirates to find reliable left-handed relief pitching. Stout is just one of the latest examples of this, owning a 4.50 ERA in 8.0 innings pitched.
Painful 7th inning to watch
Chase De Jong took over on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 7th inning. After Bligh Madris pinch hit for Jason Delay in the top half of the inning, José Godoy, who was claimed off waivers on Friday, was behind the dish making his Pirate debut.
From the first pitch it was clear there was confusion between De Jong and Godoy. This undoubtedly played a role in De Jong struggling with command throughout the inning on his way to walking three batters, one of which scored on a sacrifice fly to grow Baltimore’s lead to 6-3.
Watching a pitcher and a catcher struggling to get on the same page is beyond painful. It was a tough spot for Godoy. After being claimed off waivers a day prior he has been with the team for less than 24 hours. He did not have ample time to begin to learn his pitchers, the team’s signs, etc. Hopefully, this will not continue to be an issue with Godoy behind the dish moving forward.
Another day… another impressive Oneil Cruz home run
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Saturday afternoon saw Oneil Cruz hit an impressive home run. With the Pittsburgh Pirates trailing 3-0 in the top of the 4th inning, Cruz hit a tow-run home run to center field. His 9th home run of the season truly showed off his raw power.
Even though Cruz did not get all of it on his swing, he launched the ball 420 feet to center field. The ball left Cruz’s bat at 106.2 MPH and was the hardest hit ball of the game by either team. There have been some growing pains with Cruz, but there continues to be plenty of good as he flashes his limitless potential and why he was one of the most highly touted prospects in all of baseball.
Pirates start to mount an 8th inning rally… only for a strong defensive play to end it
Bryan Reynolds was hit in the foot to start the 8th inning. Lefty Nick Vespi was then summoned from the bullpen by Oriole manager Brandon Hyde. After Vespi walked Ben Gamel, who finished the game 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored in addition to his walk, the Pirates appears to be in prime position to put together an 8th inning rally.
Ke’Bryan Hayes would hit a ball that appeared to have a run-scoring single to center field written all over it. Baltimore shortstop Jorge Mateo had other idea, making a tremendous sliding stop as he ranged to his left. Mateo then flipped the ball to second base to start a very unlikely 6-4-3 double play. Vespi then struck out Cruz to end the inning.
As frustrating as the bottom of the 7th inning was for Pirate fans to watch, the top of the 8th inning was not much better. The Pirates appeared to be mounting a rally that would at least cut into the Baltimore lead, but a top notch defensive play by Mateo would quickly thwart the rally attempt and keep the score at 6-3 Orioles.
Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates will send Bryse Wilson (6.20 ERA, 5.16 FIP) to the mound as they look to avoid being swept. The Baltimore Orioles will counter with righty Spenser Watkins (3.80 ERA, 4.36 FIP). First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET.