Pittsburgh Pirates: Late Inning Bullpen Struggles Lead to 7-5 Loss

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Oneil Cruz #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches as his solo home run goes over the wall in the seventh inning during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on September 10, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Oneil Cruz #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches as his solo home run goes over the wall in the seventh inning during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on September 10, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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33. 5. 4. Final. 7

Three home runs were not enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to find ways to lose baseball games. For the first 5 innings of the game it appeared they would be on their way to victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Even after they blew their early lead, they regained the lead in the 7th inning.

Despite the strong start, the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Saturday night. This loss drop the Pirates to 51-87 on the season, putting them on pace for a woeful 103 losses.

Home runs give the Pirates an early lead

Oneil Cruz singled to start the 1st inning, but was taken off the bases when Bryan Reynolds hit into a double play. Fortunately, this would not cost the Pittsburgh Pirates a run. The reason it did not cost them a run was due to Rodolfo Castro.

Castro launched a Jack Flaherty pitch 109.9 MPH. The pitch traveled 396 feet and went for a solo home run. This was Castro’s 7th home run of the season and gave the Pittsburgh Pirates an early 1-0 lead.

In the 2nd inning, the Pirates struck again with the long ball. This time it was rookie outfielder Jack Suwinski. After Ke’Bryan Hayes walked to start the inning, Suwisnki launched a two-run home run 404 feet. Suwinski’s 15th home run of the season, and first since being re-called from the minors, made the score 3-0 Pirates.

JT Brubaker goes 6 innings

There have been few positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. One of those positives, however, have been the strides that JT Brubaker has made as a starting pitcher. Saturday night was yet another step forward for Brubaker.

Through the first 5 innings of the night Brubaker was was rolling. Even though he did not have his best stuff, outside of a solo home run he had not been touched up through 5 innings. In the 6th inning, however, Albert Pujols hit a two-run home run off of Brubaker. The 696th home run of Pujols career tied the game at 3.

All told, Brubaker allowed 3 runs on six hits, two walks, two home runs and three strikeouts in 6 innings pitched. Brubaker did not have his best stuff as he generated just five swings-and-misses, but after the start he owns a 4.36 ERA and a 3.89 FIP on the season.

Brubaker started the season with back-to-back poor starts. Since then, he owns a 4.05 ERA in 131 innings pitched across 24 starts. He’s posted a 7.6% walk rate, 1.03 HR/9, and a strikeout rate of 23.1%. If the Pittsburgh Pirates get that version of Brubaker throughout the 2023 season, he’ll be a solid middle of the rotation starting pitcher.

Another Cruz Missile

Cruz stepped to the plate in 7th inning 1-for-2 with a walk. With the game tied at 3, Cruz launched another Cruz Missile deep into the Pittsburgh night. This solo blast gave the Pirates a 4-3 8th inning lead.

Cruz’s blast traveled 380 feet. It was his 14th home run of the season and came off of a left-handed pitcher. This counties his recent trend of finding a lot more consistency in recent weeks as he appears to be turning a corner as a hitter.

Bullpen struggles in the 8th and 9th inning

With the Pirates leading 4-3 in the 8th inning Robert Stephenson took the mound. Stephenson’s season long struggles continued as he allowed a run in the 8th inning, allowing the Cardinals to tie the game at 4.

Wil Crowe took the ball in the 9th inning with the game tied at 4 and continued his recent struggles. With the bases loaded and two outs, Crowe allowed a bases clearing hit to Nolan Arenado. Arenado’s hit made the score 7-4 Cardinals.

Crowe’s overall season stats suddenly are starting to look poor. After allowing 3 runs on three hits, a walk and no strikeouts in the 9th inning, Crowe owns a 3.75 ERA and a 3.93 FIP in 69.2 innings pitched this season. Crowe looks like a pitcher who has been overused and is in dire need of the offseason.

dark. Next. Luis Ortiz Might Be Figuring It Out As a SP

Sunday afternoon will featuring an intriguing pitching matchup. Mitch Keller (4.22 ERA, 3.93 FIP) is slated to start for the Pirates, while ex-Bucco José Quintana (3.41 ERA, 3.19 FIP) is set to pitch for the Cardinals. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET.

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