Pirates Drop Two to Cardinals

The Pirates continued finding ways to lose, dropping a doubleheader to St. Louis.  In game one, they won a battle to see who wanted the game less, losing 6-5.  Game two, a 7-2 loss, was more of a classic Pirate, Can anybody here play this game? showcase.

Game one featured a nefarious scheme hatched by the clubhouse attendants to help the home team.  They planted posters in the Cards’ locker room announcing that today was Play Like a Pirate Day.  It almost worked; the Cards committed four errors, walked eight and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.  But you can’t beat the real thing.

Trevor Williams pitched like Trevor Williams yet again.  Four and a third innings, seven hits, six runs, one unearned due to a Kevin Newman error.  Two gopher balls, tying Williams for the major league lead.  In his last five starts, his ERA is 9.59.  A lot of people say that’s bad.  Not me, but lots of people are saying it.

After the Cards got a home run to start the game, the Pirates actually took a brief lead due to one of the stranger innings they’ve had.  Cards’ starter Carlos Martinez walked the first three batters he faced.  After an out, Bryan Reynolds reached on catcher’s interference to force in a run.  The Pirates had to resort to a replay challenge to get the correct result.  Fortunately, whoever was in the replay room in New York didn’t realize you’re not allowed to call that sort of thing on Yadier Molina.  A sacrifice fly by Newman brought in another run.

By the bottom of the fourth, the Pirates were down, 6-2.  The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs on an error, a walk and a single.  Ke’Bryan Hayes looped a single to right to drive in two, and a third scored when Tommy Edman let the ball get by him.  That made it 6-5.

The Pirates got some good work again from the bullpen.  Nik Turley got the last two outs in the fifth.  Geoff Hartlieb had his usual control problems, walking two in the sixth, but he escaped.  He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh and left for Sam Howard, but Howard quickly disposed of the next three hitters, fanning two.

The score stayed 6-5 into the bottom of the seventh.  The Cards went with Ryan Helsley, who came in with an 8.59 ERA and 4.9 BB/9.  Helsley got two out, but Newman walked and Erik Gonzalez reached on a Paul DeJong error, DeJong’s second and the Cards’ fourth.  Josh Bell came up to pinch hit and Helsley walked him on four pitches, most of them in some other zip code.  That brought up John Ryan Murphy.  Derek Shelton could have sent up Jacob Stallings, who’s had a lot of success in these situations, but Shelton thought it was Manage Like Derek Shelton Day.  Helsley fell behind 2-0, so naturally Murphy swung at a borderline pitch and flied out, ending the game The Pirate Way.

Game two, with St. Louis designated the home team, was more of a standard Pirate affair.  Chad Kuhl had an encouraging start, but the team’s abysmal offense and defense were in peak form.

Kuhl looked great for three innings, allowing just one baserunner and fanning four.  He ran into some trouble in the fourth, but kept it from getting out of hand.  After two singles to start the inning, he got a strikeout, then gave up a bloop, RBI single.  Kuhl escaped the inning by getting Tyler O’Neill to hit into a double play.

The Pirates’ offense settled into futile flailing mode.  They fanned 13 times in the seven-inning game.  Their 3-6 hitters (Colin Moran, Bell, Gregory Polanco and Gonzalez) fanned nine times in 12 ABs.  Moran for the day was 0-for-6 with five whiffs.  The Pirates had just four hits in each of the two games and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position on the day.

The only relief came in the fifth, when Bryan Reynolds interrupted the whiff-o-rama by ripping a 436-foot home run into the river.  It was his fifth bomb of the year and came with Jacob Stallings aboard via a walk.  That gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead.

The Pirates’ defense collapsed in the sixth and the game with it.  Two walks and a catcher’s interference in between loaded the bases with nobody out.  Chris Stratton came in to give up a sacrifice fly that tied the game.  The next two hitters reached on throwing errors by Ke’Bryan Hayes (Is Pirate-ness contagious?) and Josh Bell; both plays should have been easy forceouts.  That made it 4-2 and a home run by Dylan Carlson turned the game into a rout.  All six runs in the inning were unearned.

The Pirates did nothing in the seventh, leaving the score 7-2.  They’re now 15-36 on the season.