Brubaker Pitches Well, But Bucs’ Bullpen Blows It

The Pirates got a solid start and a little offense in the second game of their series in Milwaukee.  Unfortunately, a bad game by the bullpen and the team’s standard ineptitude at situational hitting combined to produce a 7-6 loss.

J.T. Brubaker had a good start after some rough early going.  There were a lot of three-ball counts, or more like two-ball-and-blown-call counts.  #FreetheRoboUmps.  Brubaker gave up a massive home run to Christian Yelich in the first.  His start teetered on the edge in the second.  With the bases loaded and two out, he walked Luis Urias on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run.  The next batter, ominously, was Yelich and Brubaker went 3-2 again, but he escaped with a line out.

After the second, Brubaker sailed through three innings, which made it his longest major league outing so far.  He even struck out the side in the fifth.  The final line was five innings, just three hits, two runs, three walks and six strikeouts.  It took 85 pitches, but 32 of those were in the second.

The offense showed its first signs of life in quite a while, even including a few extra-base hits.  It probably helped that they were facing a lefty, Brett Anderson.  The team’s hitting has actually been near the overall MLB average against LHPs, but awful in the extreme against RHPs.

The mini-outburst didn’t produce what it should have, as the Bucs went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.  They got a run in the first on a Josh Bell sacrifice fly.  After the Brewers went up, 2-1, Jacob Stallings came through in the third inning with a two-out double into the gap in right-center to drive in Cole Tucker.

The Bucs got the lead again in the top of the fifth.  Erik Gonzalez led off with a triple and Kevin Newman brought him in with a one-out sacrifice fly.  Josh Bell followed with his third home run of the year, to center field, putting the Pirates up, 4-2.

Unfortunately, the bullpen wasn’t up to it.  Sam Howard had a scoreless sixth, then Chris Stratton gave up a longball to Orlando Arcia in the seventh, making it 4-3.

Nik Turley blew the lead, and then some, in the eighth.  The inning started with a double and hit batsman.  Turley nearly got out of it, getting a strikeout and popup.  Avisail Garcia, though, grounded a double down the left field line to drive in both runners and put the Brewers up, 5-4.

In the ninth, of all things the fearsome Josh Hader did his best Miguel Del Pozo imitation.  The Brewers should have been concerned when he managed to walk Gonzalez leading off.  Tucker couldn’t lay off the high fastball and fanned, but Newman and Bell both walked.  Then Stallings and Adam Frazier each walked on four pitches, putting the Pirates up, 6-5.

The Bucs could have had more.  Bryan Reynolds got up, 3-0, on Hader’s relief, Devin Williams, but the bad umpiring intervened and Reynolds eventually hit into a force play at the plate.  Then pinch hitter Gregory Polanco lined out.

They could have used some insurance.  Richard Rodriguez blew it even more efficiently than Turley did.  A leadoff, four-pitch walk and then a two-run home run to Eric Sogard.  Pirates lose and are now 9-21.