Pittsburgh Pirates: Vince Velasquez, Bullpen Struggle in 11-5 Loss vs CWS
Vince Velasquez struggled immensely, Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen continued their hot streaks, and the bullpen imploded in the 11-5 loss against the White Sox on Saturday night
Following their first game of the series at PNC Park, where the Pirates won 13-9 against the Chicago White Sox, certain Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers completely cost the team the game and our offense slowed to a complete halt. While Andrew McCutchen, Rodolfo Castro, and Bryan Reynolds put up solid numbers and carried the offense, it wasn't enough to get the win tonight.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates loss, the series is tied 1-1 and the Pirates still have a chance to win the series tomorrow. After this ugly game, a lot needs to change if we are to be competitive in the next matchup. With this loss, the Pirates are now 5-3 on the season.
Vince Velasquez's Rough Start...Yikes...
Since signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Vince Velasquez has struggled to gain a foothold early on in the season, and his second start clearly didn't go as planned. To start off the game, Velasquez had a serviceable first inning, striking out Luis Robert and only allowed one hit to Andrew Benintendi. Unfortunately for Velasquez, the White Sox were about to rain on his parade...
The top of the 2nd inning is where Velasquez's control started to wither away after he allowed an Andrew Vaughan single and a Gavin Sheets walk. After grounding out Yasmani Grandal, Oscar Colas scored the first run of the game for the White Sox, driving in Andrew Vaughan to tie the game 1-1. Velasquez was able to escape the damage after grounding out Elvis Andrus.
The 3rd inning was when the game completely blew open for the White Sox. With a Tim Anderson double and an Andrew Benintendi RBI starting off the game, the White Sox pushed ahead of the Pirates 2-1. With 2-outs, Velasquez walked Andrew Vaughan and Gavin Sheets, appearing to be injured after he threw his 7th straight ball. After the athletic trainer and the rest of the Pirates staff went to check on him, Vince Velasquez attempted to finish the 3rd inning. It did not end well...
With the bases loaded and 2-outs, Velasquez threw a low wild pitch slider, which allowed Andrew Benintendi to make the score 3-1. Following this incident, Velasquez gave up a 2-RBI single to Yasmani Grandal, making the score to 5-1 and gave up another walk.
Due to this dreadful start, a chorus of boo's echoed from the crowd and Velasquez was finally pulled by Pirates manager Derek Shelton. Overall, it was a dreadful outing for Vinny V and I'm sure it is one he (and a lot of Pirates fans) would like to forget.
Bryan Reynolds' Scorching Hot Streak Continues (PAY THE MAN, BOB!)
Yet again, Bryan Reynolds has continued to put up MLB the Show numbers early on in the season and has showed the Pirates front office why he deserves a contract extension.
While the Pirates offense slowed to a crawl until the 3rd inning, Reynolds didn't slow down and drove in Oneil Cruz on a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 5-2. The Pirates offense started to warm up after Reynolds' RBI; Andrew McCutchen's single and Carlos Santana's walk closed out the inning.
Heading into the bottom of the 5th, Bryan Reynolds hit a no out single, moving Oneil Cruz into scoring position. Cutch came in clutch and was able to score Cruz on a sacrifice fly, and Carlos Santana was able to drive in Reynolds on an RBI-single to bring the score to 6-4.
Ever since negotiations fell short before Opening Day, Reynolds has been on fire! Now, all we can do is sit back and hope that Bob Nutting will write a blank check for Reynolds' extension. Be like Nike, Bob: JUST DO IT!
Bullpen Implosion Ruined the Pirates Offensive Rally
Following the Vince Velasquez fiasco, Chase De Jong came into the game in the bottom of the 3rd and put together a solid long relief outing, only allowing 1 earned run, struck out 2 batters, only walked 1 and only allowed 2 hits in 2.2 innings pitched. De Jong was one of the only bright spots out of the bullpen in this game, holding the score to 4-3
Veteran lefty Rob Zastryzny entered the game in the 6th with 1 out and started off slow, walking Andrew Benintendi, but he was able to generate a groundout double-play to end the inning. Heading into the 7th, Zastryzny gave up 3 earned runs off of hits from Andrew Vaughan, Yasmani Grandal, and Oscar Colas, which pushed the White Sox lead to 7-4.
Duane Underwood Jr. entered the game to try and clean up the 7th, but he was significantly worse than Zastyzny's outing, giving up 4 earned runs off three straight hits from Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert. This was one of the worst inning's from our bullpen this season and they completely cost the team any chance of winning.
So far this season, the bullpen (outside of Dauri Moreta) hasn't really improved compared to prior seasons and there is still a lot of work to do in that department. If this team expects to be a wildcard contender (which I highly doubt will happen), our bullpen needs to step it up big time, especially when games are extremely close. Once the White Sox runs kept rolling in, our momentum completely evaporated. Please don't let the magic die!
Game three of the series will feature a pitching matchup of Johan Oviedo and flamethrower Michael Kopech, both are coming off rough first games of the season. Oviedo will be looking to have a better outing compared to his first start this season and could solidify himself in the rotation for the forseeable future with a series win. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 1:35 PM ET.