Looking to salvage a game in San Francisco, the Pittsburgh Pirates were unable to do so as they were walked off on Sunday afternoon
Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates took the field at Oracle Park looking to salvage the final game of their weekend series in San Francisco. The Pirates were also looking to end what has been a porous, frustrating road trip on a winning note.
After the Pittsburgh Pirates fell in an early hole they appeared to be well on their way to yet another loss on Sunday afternoon. Of course, things had to be more frustrating than that. The Pirates rallied to take a lead in the 7th inning, only to give it back in the bottom half of the inning, and then they rallied to take a lead in the top of the 9th. Despite this, the game ended with the Pirates getting walked off in the bottom of the 9th. Following their 8-7 loss, the Pirates are now 45-70 on the season which puts them on pace for 99 losses.
Zach Thompson’s woes continue
Outside of the month of May, the 2022 season has been a very poor one for Pirate righty Zach Thompson. His struggles continued on Sunday afternoon as he was hit around by the Giants.
Thompson lasted just 4 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing 5 runs on seven hits. He also walked two batters, struck out five, and allowed a home run. Thomspon now has a 5.34 ERA and a 5.31 FIP on the season.
Sunday’s outing was just the latest that makes it appear as if Thompson’s MLB future is not in a starting rotation. On the season he has struck out batters at just a 15.9% clip, which puts him in the bottom 8% of baseball in strikeout rate. Thompson ranks in the bottom 21st percentile of baseball in whiff rate, and his opposing hard-hit rate of 41.3% is well above the MLB average of 35.8%.
At this point, there is no reason for Thompson to continue to get major league starts over Roansy Contreras. It is very clear that Thompson’s MLB future is not as a starting pitcher, it’s time for the Pirates to give his starts to their top pitching prospect.
Big day for Bryan Reynolds
The 2022 season has not gone as Bryan Reynolds had hoped. That said, he is still putting together a very strong season that most MLB hitters would kill to have. This included Reynolds have a multi-hit game on Sunday.
Reynolds got the Pirate scoring started in the 5th inning when he hit a two-run double. He would later score on a Ben Gamel ground out, cutting the Giant lead to 5-3. Reynolds struck again in the 7th inning when he launched a three-run home run. This gave Reynolds 17 home runs on the season and the Pittsburgh Pirates a 6-5 lead.
Reynolds singled to start the 9th inning, finishing the game 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, 5 RBI, and three runs scored. While, by his standards, it’s been a “down” season for Reynolds, he has an OPS of .800 to go with a wRC+ of 124. Most MLB hitters would kill to have that season, let alone for that to be considered a “down” season.
7th inning defensive miscue opens door for the Giants
After Thompson exited the game the Pirate bullpen stepped. Manny Bañuelos continued to pitch well firing a scoreless 5th inning. After Colin Holderman pitched a scoreless 6th inning, he allowed the leadoff man to reach in the 7th and was lifted for lefty Eric Stout.
After Stout issued a walk and got two outs he induced a pop up off the bat of Brandon Crawford. Shortstop Oneil Cruz called off Kevin Newman on the pop up, even though he called Newman off and the shortstop always takes precedent on pop ups, Newman kept pursuing the ball and ran into Cruz. This led to the ball dropping and the Giants scoring a run to tie the game at 6.
Originally, the play was ruled an E4. This was the right call. Newman was the one who screwed the play up, allowed the ball to drop and he deserved to be charged with an error. However, the official scorer changed the ruling which made it a RBI double for Crawford, leading to an earned run being charged to Holderman which was unfortunate.
Pirates rally in the 9th inning
After Reynolds singled to start the 9th inning, Gamel drew a one-out walk. Rodolfo Castro then hit a ground ball toward third baseman Evan Longoria. On a ball Longoria should have just held onto, he fired toward first base and sent it sailing into foul territory.
Longoria’s bad throw allowed Castro to reach on an infield hit while Reynolds scored on the play. While Reynolds scoring gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a 7-6 lead, third base coach Mike Rabello made the puzzling decision to send Gamel who was thrown out at the plate. Unfortunately, sending Gamel proved to be costly.
Bucs blow it in the 9th
Wil Crowe pitched a scoreless 8th inning and returned to the mound in the 9th. Crowe has struggled mightily this season when pitched multiple innings, but he was given a second inning by Derek Shelton. Albeit, part of this is due to a lack of viable bullpen options for Shelton.
Longoria singled off of Crowe to start the inning. Crowe then induced a ground ball that looked like a potential 4-6-3 double play. However, Josh VanMeter, who should be nowhere near a MLB roster, struggled to start the play leading to the Pirates getting only one out. Thairo Estrada then launched a walk-off two-run home run off of Crowe to end the game.
There was a lot that went into this Pirate loss but a big factor was more poor in-game management by Shelton. VanMeter never should have been in the game. He pinch hit for Jason Delay, who has been a better hitter than VanMeter this season, and struck out in a terrible at-bat. VanMeter then remained in the game at second base where he made his costly 9th inning mistake. He also allowed Crowe to pitch a second inning even though Crowe’s effectiveness has gone down greatly this season when pitching multiple innings.
It was an all-around frustrating day for the Pirates on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be off on Monday as they return home from their 10-game road trip. Following the off day, the Pirates will kick off a three-game series at PNC Park against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. Mitch Keller (4.25 ERA, 3.88 FIP) is slated to start for the Pirates while the Red Sox plan to send Nick Pivetta (4.51 ERA, 4.19 FIP) to the mound. The first pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.