Pirates beat themselves in the field, at the plate
Regardless of the sport, it is difficult to win games when you make mistakes. This can be especially true in baseball where every little thing can be a huge moment in a game. When you're play the best team in a sport mistakes can be extra costly, that was the case for the Pirates in this series.
While they played a clean game in Thursday's 3-2 loss, defensive miscues burnt them in the first two games.
Game one's 4-1 run loss saw a pair of runs score due to defensive follies. First, Rodolfo Castro lost a routine pop up that dropped for a cheap hit with that runner eventually coming around to score. Later in that 5th inning, Austin Hedges made a terrible lob throw from his knees to try and nail a runner attempting to steal second base. Not only did Hedges not throw the runner out, it allowed the runner on third to break for the plate and score. Worst of all, this came after the Pirates had tied the game at 1 in the top half of the inning.
Wednesday's 8-1 loss was especially frustrating on a defensive front. Ji Hwan Bae went down to attempt to field a 3rd inning ground ball he should have stayed up on. Later in the inning, Castro committed a fielding error on a ground ball that would have ended the inning. Bryan Reynolds then missed play a base hit, a base hit that only hapened due to the Pirates giving away outs, allowing it to turn into a double. This led to 3 uneared 3rd inning runs, and, once again, this came after the Pirates had scored the previous half inning, this time to take their first and only lead of the series.
The Rays scored 2 more runs due to Bae's defense in the 5th inning. Bae failed to get the ball out of his glove with the infield in while attempting to throw out a runner at home, a runner that was dead to rights. Bae then panicked and made a poor choice to fire the ball to first base, the ball wound up in the right field corner allowing Wander Franco to go to third base eventually resulting in another unearned runs. All told, 4 of the 5 runs allowed by Keller in game two were unearned.
These many defensive mistakes, especially ones these costly, are always difficult to overcome. Part of what made them so costly was the Rays doing what the team with the best record in baseball does and making the Pirates pay.
At the plate, it was also frustraitng for the Pirates.
Game one saw the Tampa pitching staff walk seven batters, but the Pirates failed to capitalize. Getting runners on base and fialing to capitalize was a theme the first two games of the series. Then in game three, the Pirates entered the 9th inning with just three base hits.
Pittsburgh batters were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in game one and left 11 runners on base. In game two they went 0-for-7 with RISP while leaving eight men on base. Carlos Santana's 2-run 9th inning double to pull the team within a run at 3-2 in game three was their only hit in the series with RISP.
Overall, the Pirates were 1-for-21 with RISP in the series and left 23 runners on base. Even against a very good Rays staff they had opportunities to score, but failed to do so.