The Pirates made a real effort against a good Cleveland team, pushing the Indians into extra innings. Unfortunately, their problematic relationship with baseball strategy and stuff got in the way, as did the umpires, and they lost, 6-3, in the tenth.
The Pirates got an actual lead in the first. Kevin Newman doubled with one out to extend his hitting streak to seven games. After a ground out, Colin Moran lined a single through the shift to drive in the run.
J.T. Brubaker pitched well enough in the first two innings, but his command went missing in the third. A double and two walks loaded the bases, and a single by Carlos Santana and sacrifice fly by Franmil Reyes brought in three runs. Brubaker departed after that, with a line of three hits, three runs and three walks in three innings. He fanned only one.
After the first, the Pirates looked like they were going into we’re-over-our-heads mode against Carlos Carrasco. It didn’t help when Kevin Newman inexplicably bunted with the slow-footed Jacob Stallings on first and one out in the third. That clever strategy resulted in a force out.
In the fifth, though, the Pirates tied the game. Josh Bell doubled in Adam Frazier and Newman, who’d singled and walked, respectively.
Both bullpens took over through the ninth. Derek Holland, a bit surprisingly, replaced Brubaker and threw a couple scoreless innings. Chris Stratton, Nik Turley, Rich Rodriguez and Keone Kela each threw one without getting into any serious trouble. The Indians’ bullpen mostly blew the Pirates away until the ninth, fanning six in three and two-thirds innings, with the Bucs getting just one hit.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates had one of the inexplicable moments that make you wonder whether they have a lot of guys who are new to baseball. Jarrod Dyson led off with a rare hit, then the Indians managed to get nobody on Stallings’ bunt. With the winning run in scoring position, Derek Shelton decided it needed to be more in scoring position and had Frazier bunt. Or try to. Frazier came up empty and Dyson managed to get himself caught off second even though the catcher double-pumped on the throw. The Pirates challenged the call, which was obviously wrong, but it was upheld. Newman then hit what would have been a game-winning single, his third hit of the game, but Bell struck out.
Things moved along to a mercifully swift conclusion after that. Sam Howard got off to a hopeful start in the tenth, fanning the leadoff hitter to keep the fake runner on second. But a hit batsman and a three-run bomb by Santana, who came in batting .179, followed, and the Indians led, 6-3. (The Pirates challenged the home run call as foul, but again lost. It appears foul on the close-angle replay, but the angle may be deceptive.) In the bottom half, the Pirates failed for the sixth time in seven tries this year to get the runner in from second, striking out three times to total 15 for the game. They’re now 4-15.