A miserable 1st inning and failing to capitalize on a 9th inning rally led to a fourth straight loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates who are now 34-34 on the season
What has quickly spiralled into a road trip from hell contineud for the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 5-4 loss on Friday night. This loss came in the first game of their important three-game weekend series in Milwaukee against the Brewers.
With the loss, the Pirates are now 0-4 on their current road trip with each of the losses coming against NL Central foes. The loss dropped the team back to .500 on the season at 34-34, and puts them in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for second place in the division now sitting a half a game behind the Brewers.
This game was one the Pirates easily could have one. They had too many self inflicted wounds in Milwaukee's big 1st inning, then ran into an out on the bases in the 7th inning and squandered a great opportunity to score in the 9th inning. Frustrating.
Rich Hill struggles
Pitching on an extra day's rest, Rich Hill took the mound for the first time since throwing 119 pitches in his last outing against the New York Mets. It was not completely his doing, but in the 1st inning Hill looked like a 43-year-old coming off a 119 pitch outing.
Hill had not walked more than three batters in an outing all season, but he would walk four batters in the 1st inning. The walk Hill issued to start the game was erased on a double play ball, but his fourth walk came with the bases loaded to bring in a run.
While two other walks were culprits, a catcher interference call on Austin Hedges helped load the bases as well. This was the fourth time this season Hedges was called for catcher interference. Most MLB catchers will go their entire career without being called for catcher interference four times, let alone four times by June 16th.
Hill wound up pitching 5 innings. He allowed 4 runs, 3 earned due to the catcher interference, on three hits, six walks, and five strikeouts.
Carmen Mlodzinski makes MLB debut
Carmen Mlodzinski is a pitcher we have talked about a lot in recent weeks. Mlodzinski had been pitching extremely well at Triple-A and was knocking on the door of the majors. On Friday, that door was opened when Rob Zastryzny was placed on the injured list and Mlodzinski was promoted to the majors.
After Hill's day ended, Mlodzinski became the first member of the 2020 Pirate draft class to make their MLB debut. Mlodzinski pitched the 6th inning and for the first out of the 7th inning. Mlodzinski struck out a pair and issued a walk in his 1.1 innings pitched, but he also allowed a solo home run to Joey Weimer.
While the home run Weimer hit off of Mlodzinski proved to be very costly for the Bucs, it was still a good debut for the 24-year-old righty. His stuff played and he looked like a pitcher who belongs in the majors. It will be intriguing to watch the development of Mlodzinski in the coming weeks.
Base running blunder hurts Bucs in the 7th inning
Julio Teheran started for the Brewers. His resurgent season continued as the long-timer Pirate killer limited the Bucs to just 2 runs in 6 innings of work. The 2 runs came on a solo home run by Carlos Santana and a Tucupita Marcano sacrifice fly.
Elvis Peguero replaced Teheran in the 7th inning and the Pirate offense attempted to stage a rally.
Peguero walked Andrew McCutchen to start the inning and Santana singled McCutchen to third base. Jack Suwinski was hit by a pitch, and the Pirates had the bases loaded with no one out. Just like that, the Pirates had more base runners than they did against Teheran.
Josh Palacios hit a ground ball to Milwaukee third baseman Luis Urias. Instead of attempting to turn a double play, Urias went home to cut down the run. Ke'Bryan Hayes would follow with a base hit to right field that scored a pair of runs. However, Palacios was thrown out attempting to go first to third. Ji Hwan Bae then struck out to end the inning with the Pirates trailing 5-4.
Palacios being thrown out trying to go first to third was frustrating, but it was the type of aggressive mistake you can live with. Especially when your team is struggling. Palacios forced the Brewers to try and make a play, a play that they made with a good throw from right and a really good swipe tag by Urias as Palacios was sliding toward the bag.
9th inning rally falls short
Facing one of the toughest relievers in the National League the Pirates faced a tall task in the 9th inning. They were able to mount a rally against Devin Williams, but it would come up short in the end.
With one out in the 9th inning Suwinski drew a walk and Palacios doubled. This put runners on second and third with just one out. Hayes stepped to the plate and just needed to put the ball in play. Well, the Pirate third basemen struck out looking. The worst possible outcome in that situation. The one outcome you could not have. It was a brutal at-bat for Hayes.
Bae then received and unintentioanl intentioanl walk. With the weak hitting Jason Delay on deck it was clear Milwaukee had zero desire to throw Bae a strike. Delay would prove the Brewers correct as he went down swining on three pitches. Delay is now 8-for-38 with 18 strikeouts and no extra base hits since May 1st.
Words can not describe the frustration of the 9th inning. Hayes, who has been as hot as any Pirate hitter this month, needed to just put the ball in play and did not even get the bat off his shoulder. The struggling Delay continued to show he does not belong in the majors on the same night both Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez had strong games at Triple-A.
Saturday afternoon the Pirates will send their ace Mitch Keller (3.41 ERA, 3.27 FIP) to the mound in desperate need of a victory. Veteran lefty Wade Miley (3.67 ERA, 4.59 FIP) will come off the IL to start for the Brewers. First pitch from American Family Field is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET.