Blown Chances Cost Pirates Against Royals

The Pirates went to Kansas City, where they got a rare opportunity to face a team that’s almost as bad as they are.  The key word is “almost,” as the Bucs’ continued inability to do the hitting thing led to a 4-3 loss.

Steven Brault was pretty much Steven Brault, not terrible but not good enough.  He gave up a first-inning home run to the Royals’ second batter, Adalberto Mondesi.  It could have been a two-run bomb, but Ke’Bryan Hayes made a great, barehand pickup and throw on a bunt by the leadoff hitter, Whit Merrifield.

Brault had more trouble in the third.  A walk, three straight singles — only one of them hit hard — and a wild pitch brought in two more runs to put the Royals up, 3-0.  Brault came out after the fourth, having thrown 97 pitches and walked three.  He’s now walked 17 in just 26.2 IP.

Ben & Derry’s lineup as usual was overmatched against the opposing starter, on account of him having the lethal combination of two arms and two legs.  In this case it was Kris Bubic, who until a little over a month ago had never pitched above class A.  He came in 0-5, 4.89, but the Pirates still managed to put on the kind of embarrassing display that makes them painful to follow.

The top of the second was a classic Pirate inning.  They got Colin Moran and Josh Bell to the corners with nobody out, but Jacob Stallings, Adam Frazier and Cole Tucker all whiffed.

They tried the same routine in the fourth, getting Moran and Bell to the corners to start the inning.  This time, Stallings doubled in one run.  But with second and third and nobody out, Frazier popped out, Tucker whiffed again and Erik Gonzalez lined out.

The Pirates’ bullpen was solid again.  Even Dovydas Neverauskas managed a scoreless inning despite not throwing many strikes.  Chris Stratton gave up a run in his second inning, thanks in part to a couple stolen bases.  Nik Turley retired the only batter he faced and Geoff Hartlieb threw a scoreless eighth.

Bubic left after five, but the Royals’ bullpen mostly blew the Pirates away.  The only hit in the last four innings was a two-run home run by Josh Bell with one out in the eighth, making the score 4-3.  It was Bell’s fifth of the year.  That was the end of the offense, though, as the next four batters fanned and Kevin Newman grounded out to end the game.

The Pirates finished with seven hits.  Bell had three and Hayes, who already seems too good for this team, had two, plus his first major league steal.  The team fanned 13 times.  Tucker struck out all three times up, then left for a pinch hitter, Gregory Polanco, who of course also fanned.  Frazier also struck out three times.  The Pirates are now 14-28.