A tough luck 1st inning, the Pirate offense fizzled out late, and a poor 8th inning by Colin Holderman contributed to an 8-7 Pittsburgh Pirates loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers
Entering play on Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Pirates were riding high on a 7-game win streak, the longest winning streak in baseball, and were in first place in the NL Central. Unfortunately for the Pirates, their win streak came to an end after losing game one of the series against the Dodgers.
Johan Oviedo and Colin Holderman struggled at times against Dodger hitters, while Andrew McCutchen and other playmakers were getting clutch hits to keep the game close. Sadly, the offense fell apart toward the end of the game. With this loss, the Pirates are now 16-8 on the season and 0-1 for the series. Fear not, we will still be winning more games; this was just a minor bump in the road...Let's get into the recap and see what went wrong for the Buccos.
Johan Oviedo struggles against Dodger hitters
Johan Oviedo had been arguably the best Pirate starting pitcher thus far in 2023. Unfortunately, he ran into trouble in the 6th inning on Tuesday night and was burnt by poor defense in the 1st inning to make an otherwise strong start look poor.
In the 1st, things didn't start off well for Oviedo after he walked Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward reached first base due to catcher interference from Austin Hedges. Miguel Vargas would then bloop a very weakly hit ball into shallow right field for a 2-run double. Nothing short of brutal luck for Oviedo.
Oviedo recovered well after he struck out David Peralta to end the inning. In the 2nd, Oviedo put together his first scoreless inning of the night and struck out Michael Busch to start the inning.
In the 3rd, Oviedo struck out back-to-back batters and flew out Outman to get into the 4th. Oviedo dominated the Dodgers in innings 2-4. Things started to look good for Oviedo going into the 5th, where he had a 5-run lead, but this was the beginning of the end for Oviedo's start. After he gave up a leadoff single, Freddie Freeman hit an RBI-single to cut the Pirate lead to 7-3.
In the 6th inning, Oviedo struggled. After giving up a leadoff double to Outman, a Vargas walk, and a Busch RBI single which put the final nail in the coffin for Oviedo's start. On the night, Oviedo pitched 5.1 innings, struck out 7 batters, issued 4 walks, and allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 94 pitches. We shouldn't be too hard on Oviedo, but this loss stings; especially against a team like the Dodgers.
Andrew McCutchen and playmakers try to keep the game close
The Pirates offense has been fun to watch this season, and they tried to keep the win streak alive, but unfortunately, things didn't work out in the Pirates favor...
Starting off the 1st, the Pirates hitters were able to get runs on the board after Tucupita Marcano hit a single off of Noah Syndergaard to put the Pirates in the hit column, and stole 2nd base for his first steal of the season. Carlos Santana came in clutch and hit an RBI-single to put the Pirates on the board 1-2. Jack Suwinski followed with a single of his own, but the inning was cut short once Connor Joe lined out to left field.
In the 2nd, Ji Hwan Bae hit a one out single and beat the throw out to first to get on base. The speedy utility-man followed that hit by stealing 2nd base for his 6th of the season. Austin Hedges was hit-by-pitch on a 2-2 count sinker and had to be checked for again for a potential injury. Star third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes followed with a 2-RBI double to put the Pirates up 3-2, scoring Bae and Hedges.
After a quiet 3rd inning, the Pirates offense came alive in the 4th after Ji-Hwan Bae hit another single and stole 2nd base for the second time of the game, acquiring his 7th of the season. Austin Hedges hit an RBI-single to push the Pirates up 4-2. Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a single to get on-base and Andrew McCutchen hit a 3-run blast to put the Pirates up 7-2.
Fast Foward to the bottom of the 8th, with the game on the line, the Pirates tried to get runs on the board after the Dodgers took an 7-8 lead in the top of the 8th. Rodolfo Castro hit a leadoff single and Ji Hwan Bae bunted into a forceout. Mark Mathias pinch-hit for Austin Hedges and was able to draw a walk from Ferguson. After Hayes struck out, Marcano was hit-by-pitch to load the bases with 2-outs. Andrew McCutchen came up to bat and was able to generate a 3-2 count, but popped out and was extremely angry with himself for that at-bat.
Pirates hitters were unable to get anything going in the 9th and lost 7-8.
Late inning bullpen struggles lead to series-opening loss
After Robert Stephenson and Jose Hernandez put together solid outings to try and keep the game close, Colin Holderman wasn't able to keep the Dodger hitters from scoring runs. So far this season, Holderman was very reliable as a high-leverage arm, but this just wasn't his day.
In the top of the 8th, Holderman gave up a leadoff single to Vargas and walked Busch to put two runners in scoring position. Walking a batter making their MLB debut just can not happen in that situation. Chris Taylor hit a 3-run home run to put the Dodgers up 7-8 on the night, which sealed the deal for the Pirates bullpen. In what could have been a win, pitching all across the board got unlucky and cost the team the victory...
In game two of the series on Wednesday night, Roansy Contreras (2-1, 4.57 ERA, 19 strikeouts) will be taking the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tony Gonsolin will be pitching in his first game of the season for the Dodgers. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35pm ET.