The Pirates continued to sleepwalk through the late stages of their dismal mini-season, losing 4-1 to Cincinnati. Their latest losing streak is now at seven. But Blake Cederlind made his first appearance with the Pirates and did fine, which is the only sort of comfort they provide.
The team’s hitters once again looked like low-level minor leaguers playing way out of their depth. They were facing Michael Lorenzon, who was making his first start in two years. Lorenzon has been struggling this year, mainly because he hasn’t been throwing strikes. That’s not a problem against the chase-everything Pirates, who unsurprisingly see fewer pitches in the strike zone than any other NL team. Lorenzon didn’t walk a batter and fanned six over five innings.
The Pirates had only one runner in the first three innings. In the fourth, Ke’Bryan Hayes (who really looks like a shortstop playing third) doubled and scored on a single by Colin Moran. That was their only run of the game.
Joe Musgrove had a typical Musgrove start, showing flashes of a guy who resembles a mid-rotation starter, but in the end getting poor results. The Reds loaded the bases with nobody out in the first on two line-drive singles and a walk. Musgrove got a force at the plate, but then hit Mike Moustakas to force in a run. A sacrifice fly brought in a second one and a bloop single by Real Freddy Galvis drove in a third. A leadoff home run by Tucker Barnhart in the second made it 4-0 Reds.
Musgrove ended up going five innings, allowing only two more hits after the home run. He fanned eight.
In the sixth, Cederlind made his debut with a 1-2-3 inning. He showed off a 97-99 mph fastball that helped him get ahead in the count, but he had a little trouble putting hitters away with his slider. Derek Holland threw a veteranly pair of white flag innings to finish up.
The Reds’ bullpen breezed through the sixth, seventh and eighth. The Pirates got two on in the ninth, but couldn’t do anything with them. For the game, the Bucs had five hits. Gregory Polanco fanned three times, flailing at pitches out of the strike zone. He’s 2-for-33 in his last eleven games, with 17 strikeouts.
The loss left the Pirates with a record of 14-33. Their .298 winning percentage, if it stays there, will be the second worst in post-1900 team history, ahead of only the 1952 Rickey Dinks.
Still, the team’s upper echelons see positives. After the game, manager Derek “D-Day” Shelton was asked how the team was handling another losing streak. “We’re doing fine,” Shelton said. “The important thing is having fun. You can’t get too wrapped up in wins and losses.”
“Having the right substance helps,” Shelton added. “When you see another opposing long ball sailing toward the seats, you just have to grab it, in your mind. You grab it and paint it blue, and it’s all good, man.”
The team’s GM, Prof. Ben Cherington, was also unconcerned about the losing. “We’re evaluating,” said Prof. Cherington. “There’ve been a lot of good things. We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of video of all our games and we think it will make a difference going forward. It’s easy viewing. We just edited out the bad stuff and that left us with a one-minute, 40-second segment. We’re very happy with what we’re seeing.”
Pirates’ owner Bunkerbob Nutting was unavailable for comment as he had a prior Zoom appointment.