Home runs by Oneil Cruz and Rodolfo Castro were not enough as the Pittsburgh Pirates got walked-off by the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night
For what has felt like nearly two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates have struggled mightily against the Milwaukee Brewers. Even when the Pirates had their stretch of four winning seasons and three postseason berths during a six year stretch in 2013-2018, they struggled against the Brew Crew.
Despite this, entering Monday night’s contest the Pirates had won five games in a row against the Brewers for the first time since 2002. Although it appeared the Pirates were going to make it six in a row, late inning bullpen problems led to the Pirates being walk-off 7-5 to fall to 48-80 on the season.
Bryse Wilson’s struggles continue
After needing 43 pitches to get through the 1st inning of his start on Friday night, for the second time in four days Bryse Wilson started for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a pair of strong innings to start the night, things went sideways for Wilson in the 3rd.
After issuing a one-out walk in the 3rd inning, Wilson allowed four consecutive hits. All four of these hits left the bat of the opposing batter with an exit velocity of at least 95 MPH, with three of the four being over 104 MPH.
That four batter stretched ended when Wilson issued another walk before getting Andrew McCutchen to ground out to end the inning. When the dust settled from the inning, the Brewers had a 3-0 lead. Had Jack Suwinski not thrown a runner out at third base the inning would have been even worse for Wilson and the Pirates.
Wilson generated just four swings-and-misses in the start, and Brewer batters put seven balls in play that had an exit velocity of at least 104 MPH. He now owns a 6.12 ERA, 5.14 FIP, and just a 14.9% strikeout rate for the season. All signs point toward Wilson having no long-term major league future in Pittsburgh.
Oneil Cruz continues to murder baseballs
Since the start of July Oneil Cruz has hit 17 baseballs that had an exit velocity of at least 110 MPH. This is the third highest total in baseball behind Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Aaron Judge, with three of the 17 coming on Monday night.
Cruz’s first at-bat saw him line out to second base on a ball that left his bat at 113.8 MPH. He grounded out in his second at-bat after he hit the ball 113.2 MPH. Then in his third at-bat, the Cruz Missile was launched.
With the Pirates trailing 3-1, Cruz launched a Corbin Burnes pitch 437 feet for a three-run bomb. Cruz’s 11th home run of the season left his bat at 117.5 MPH, the hardest hit home run by any Pittsburgh Pirates player since the start of the StatCast Era in 2015, to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead in the 5th inning. Later in the game, Cruz drew a walk off of one of the toughest lefty relievers in the National League in Brent Suter.
This was the second home run that Cruz has hit off of defending National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. This is just the fifth time in franchise history a player has hit multiple home runs off the defending Cy Young Award winner in a season. The other four occurrences were Roberto Clemente in 1969 and 1972, while both Manny Sanguillen and Willie Stargell did it in 1973.
Pirates survive 5th inning scare
After the Pirates took a 4-3 lead in the top half of the 5th inning, things got very rocky in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs in the inning Eric Stout allowed back-to-back singles, the second of which would have been a routine ground ball out had he let it go.
After the consecutive base hits, Stout issued a walk to load the bases and was lifted for Yohan Ramirez. After Ramirez got ahead in the count against Luis Urías 0-2, Ramirez threw three straight balls as things got tense. On his 3-2 pitch, Ramirez induced a ground ball that Cruz fired to first base and Michael Chavis made a tremendous pick on to end the inning.
It was not easy, but the Pirates posted a zero in the 5th inning and got out of the inning with their lead still in tact.
Rodolfo Castro staying hot
Since re-joining the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month infielder Rodolfo Castro has been on a tear at the plate. His hot streak at the plate continued on Monday night when he launched a solo home run in the 6th inning.
Castro’s home run left his bat at 107.4 MPH and traveled 427 feet. This was Castro’s 5th MLB home run this season. He also made a sparkling leaping grab to rob Kolten Wong of a hit to end the 7th inning. Castro continues to look like a young player who is figuring it all out, putting it all together, and emerging as an every day big league player.
Bullpen runs into two-out trouble in the 8th inning
After cleaning up the mess Stout made in the 5th inning, Ramirez remained in the game and pitched a much less stressful scoreless 6th inning. Duane Underwood Jr. was next up for the Pirates.
Underwood Jr. pitched a scoreless 7th inning and got the first two outs of the 8th inning. After issuing a two-out walk to Omar Narvaez and losing the battle of a nine pitch at-bat, Underwood Jr. was lifted for Wil Crowe. Crowe gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Garrett Mitchell, the first of the recently promoted Mitchell’s career.
After the Pittsburgh Pirates stranded a pair of base runners in the top of the 9th inning, Crowe took the mound again in the bottom half of the inning. It did not take long for the Brewers to walk it off, as Willy Adames singled on the second pitch of the inning before Keston Hiura hit a walk-off two-run home run. Hiura now has 13 home runs against the Pirates since 2019, which is the third most among all MLB hitters.
Monday night was a night that Crowe would like to forget. Crowe faced four batters, only getting one out while allowing both the game-tying and walk-off home runs. All the innings pitched by Crowe this season my finally be catching up to him as he has not looked like himself in recent outings.
Game two of the series will see Mitch Keller (4.50 ERA, 3.99 FIP) take the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jason Alexander (5.26 ERA, 5.09 FIP) is slated to start for Milwaukee. First pitch from American Family Field is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET.