Another bullpen implosion led to the Pittsburgh Pirates snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in their 10th straight loss
Things are getting ugly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following a bullpen meltdown in the 8th inning, the Pirates have now lost 10 games in a row with a 6-4 loss against the Miami Marlins. With the loss the Pirates are now 34-40 on the season.
This slide has taken the Pirates from first place in the NL Central to being in fourth place. They are now 7 games out of first place and just 3.5 games ahead of the last place St. Louis Cardinals. From 20-8 to this. People need fired.
Mitch Keller plays stopper again, shoves
Needed to play stopper yet again, Pirate ace Mitch Keller took the ball. Mitch did exactly what his team needed him to do.
Throughout the night Keller kept Miami batters off balanced an uncomfortable. Keller pitched 7 innings, allowing just 1 run on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. He threw a season-high tying 107 pitches while generating six swings-and-misses.
In fact, the lone run Keller allowed easily could have been unearned. This was due to poor defense hurting him in the 2nd inning.
Jon Berti hit a roller to shortstop Rodolfo Castro with one out and a runner on second base. While it was a bit of a challenging play, Castro whiffed on the ball allowing Berti to reach. It was a play that Castro would be the first one to tel lyou he should have made.
Castro's blunder put runners on the corners with one out and was followed by a Joey Wendle fly out to center field. Had Castro made the play Wendle's fly out would have ended the inning without a run scoring. Instead, it was a sacrifice fly that gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Keller cracked down after that only allowing three base runners across his final 5 innings of work.
All in all, Keller did what he needed to do and did what aces do when their team is struggling. He took the mound, dominated, and shut the opponent down. Keller now owns a 3.45 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 99 innings pitched this season. He may very well be on his way to his first career All-Star Game berth.
Carlos Santana impacts the gmae in multiple ways
There is no sugarcoating how much the Pirate offense is struggling right now. So, seeing the Bucs grab a 2-1 run lead in the 4th inning was a pleasant sight. Shoot, an inning with the team scoring multiple runs was a pleasant sight.
At first it appeared the inning was going to go quickly without much of a whimper from Pirate batters. There were two outs in the inning with no one on base, the Pirates did not have a hit yet, and seven of the first 11 Pirate batters had struck out.
With two strikes and two outs Connor Joe singled to center field for the first Pirate hit of the game. Carlos Santana then hit a double out of the reach of a diving Bryan De La Cruz to score Joe. This was just the start of Santana impacting the game.
For some reason the slow footed Santana broke for third base. Thankfully, this move worked as Santana was not just safe, but he was able to score on a throwing error by Miami catcher Nick Fortes. This run gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
After Santana helped give the Pirates a 2-1 lead he started to flash some leather. He made a great play diving far to his right where he stopped the ball and then collected himself to beat the runner back to the bag to end the 4th inning. Santana then led off the 5th inning with a great playing back up into foul territory to field a ball and record the first out of the inning. He also made a nice stretch on a throw by Ke'Bryan Hayes to help record the final out of the 5th.
Henry Davis blasts his 1st home run
It has not taken Henry Davis long to impress. In his first MLB at-bat on Monday night the former no. 1 overall pick hit a double. He also drew a walk and made a strong play in right field in the game. On Wednesday afternoon, Davis, who was known for being hit by pitches in the minors, got his first career hit by pitch out of the way.
Thursday night Davis got another first out of the way and it was one of the big ones. Leading off the top of the 8th inning Davis launched a 407-foot blast to left field for his first career home run, joining Gregory Polanco and John Wehner as Pirate players to hit their first career home run in Miami.
The Davis blast came off of lefty Andrew Nardi. Pirate batters were excited to see Nardi in the 8th inning after starter Braxton Garrett struck out a career-high 13 batters in 7 innings pitched. Ke'Bryan Hayes would also take Nardi deep in the 8th inning. A two-out solo home run by Hayes, his 5th of the season, made the score 4-1 Pirates.
All kinds of good vibes... until the 8th inning that is.
Bullpen implodes.. again
For much of the season Dauri Moreta has been lights out for the Pirates. However, he currently looks like a young reliever in his first full MLB season who has been overused and is in dire need of some time down. Unfortunately, that time down is not available due to the current state of the Pirate bullpen.
Thursday night Moreta's recent woes continued. He inherited a 4-1 lead in the 8th inning, but allowed a double, issued a walk, and allowed a single. With the bases loaded and no one out he was pulled for rookie Carmen Mlodzinski.
Making just his fourth MLB appearance Mlodzinski was put into a big spot by Derek Shelton. It did not go well. Mlodzinski allowed a 2-run single to make the score 4-3. Then with one out he allowed a go-ahead 3-run home run to Garrett Cooper to give the Marlins a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Moreta and Mlodzinski may both have big futures in the Pirate bullpen. However, right now, they're being used in roles that aren't for them. Moreta has been oversued and needs some unavailable time down while Mldozinski is not ready for high-leverage situations yet.
Friday night Luis Ortiz (4.30 ERA, 5.56 FIP) is set to take the ball for the Pirates. Lefty Jesús Luzardo (4.09 ERA, 3.63 FIP) is slated to start for Miami. First pitch from LoanDepot Park is scheduled for 6:40 PM ET.