Pittsburgh Pirates: Terrible 6th Inning Sinks Team in Second Straight Loss Against the Cubs

Jun 14, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Austin Hedges (18) reacts after
Jun 14, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Austin Hedges (18) reacts after / Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

A 6th inning from hell that included poor pitching by Roansy Contreras and Yohan Ramirez, as well as poor managerial decisions by Derek Shelton sunk the Pittsburgh Pirates in their second straight loss against the Chicago Cubs

Baseball seasons include plenty of frustrating losses. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, arguably the most frustrating loss of the season thus far, and I stress the thus far part, came against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

In a game the Pirates were in complete control of entering the bottom of the 6th inning, the Bucs wound up falling to the Cubs 10-6. Their second loss in as many days at Wrigley Field against the lowly Cubs dropped the Pirates to 34-32 on the season and marks their 9th consecutive series loss agaisnt the Cubs.

This puts the Pirates 1.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and 1.5 games aheado of the fast charging Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.

Pirate offense scores early and often against Drew Smyly

Entering Wednesday night's start lefty Drew Smyly owned a 3.27 ERA this season. While he was off to a strong start, the Pirate offense was able to jump all over Smyly scoring early and often agaisnt the veteran.

Andrew McCutchen led the game off with a home run, giving him 9 on the season and 296 in his career. McCutchen's home run was not the only one of the 1st inning. Carlos Santana also went yard off Smyly. Santana's 2-run shot, his 5th of the season, made the score 3-0 Pirates. Santana also singled home a run in the 3rd inning, extending the Pirate lead to 4-1.

The coup de grâce came in the 4th inning when Austin Hedges hit a home run. Yes, Austin Hedges. His 1st home run as a Pirate made the score 5-1 Bucs. It also left Hedges trying to figure out the home run celebration in the dugout.

In the 6th inning it looked like the Pirates would strike off Smyly again. After Ke'Bryan Hayes and Rodolfo Castro singled, Hedges stepped to the plate with two outs. Hedges put a good swing on the ball but hit a line drive that Swanson made a good play on back up and having to leave his feet to catch the ball, ending the inning. The ball left Hedges' bat at 95.6 MPH.

Unfortunately, getting 5 runs in 6 innings off Smyly was not enough for the Pirates. Even though it should have been.

Osvaldo Bido impresses in MLB debut

With the Pirates in desperate need of starting pitching help they promoted righty Osvaldo Bido to make his MLB debut on Wednesday night. Bido did not pitch deep into the game but he impressed while on the mound.

In the 1st inning Bido struck out the side. While he did allow a run, it came on a weakly hit and perfectly place ground ball off the bat of Dansby Swanson. This also came after Castro misplayed a ball at shortstop that should have resulted in an out, an out that would have kept the Cubs from scoring.

Bido pitched 4 innings, allowing just the 1 run on four hits, three walks and six strikeouts. He threw 57 of 91 pitches for strikes and generated 9 swings-and-misses. Bido flashed quality stuff and looked better than anticipated.

All in all it was an impressive MLB debut for Bido. It was also just about all the Pirates could have asked for, maybe even more.

Struggles of Roansy Contreras continues in 6th inning from hell

Bido was started on Wednesday due to Roansy Contreras being demoted to the bullpen. Contreras relieved Bido and fird a 1-2-3 5th inning with a strikeout. Then in the 6th inning, things completely unraveled on Contreras.

With two on and one out in the 6th Contreras walked Yan Gomes to load the bases. He was then called for a pitch clock violation in a three ball count to Nick Madrigal, leading to ball four and a run coming home.

At this point Derek Shelton absolutely had to pull Contreras. Well... he didn't. Contreras proceeded to allow a 2-run single to Mike Tauchman and, very quickly, the Cubs had gone from trailing 5-1 to trailing 5-4.

Shelton finally pulled Contreras and went with Yohan Ramirez. Yes, the same Ramirez who struggled mightily the night before. Not Dauri Moreta who has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season when it comes to stranding inherited runners.

Ramirez issued a four pitch walk to reload the bases before allowing a 2-run single to Ian Happ. After uncorking a wild pitch, Ramirez allowed a bloop single. When the dust finally settled on a 6th inning from hell, the Pirates went from leading 5-1 to trailing 7-5.

Cubs blow the game open against Colin Holderman

Entering the bottom of the 8th inning the Pirates were trailing 7-6. Shelton made the decision to go with Colin Holderman who, once again, continued to prove he is not a high leverage reliever.

Holderman gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning before allowing a 2-run double to Seiya Suzuki. After issuing a two out walk Holderman allowed a base hit to Trey Mancini that made the score 10-6 Cubs. Since joining the Pirates last August, Holderman owns a 4.87 ERA.

Next up

Johan Oviedo (4.16 ERA, 3.98 FIP) will toe the rubber for the Pirates on Thursday night as they look to avoid being swept by the lowly Cubs. It will be a tall task, however, as Marcus Stroman (2.42 ERA, 3.49 FIP) is slated to start for the Cubs. First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET.