When a team is really, really bad, somebody always seems to step “forward” to make the wrong play at the wrong time, to ensure a loss. And sometimes it’s the manager. The Pirates got a marvelous effort from Wil Crowe, but it took Derek Shelton a few seconds to throw it away in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers. Shelton handed Milwaukee a three-game sweep. The Pirates have now lost seven straight and 30 of 41.
Crowe got off to a shaky start. The first two batters he faced singled and doubled, putting Milwaukee ahead, 1-0. Crowe then retired the next 15 batters. He got eight on strikes, setting a career high.
The Pirates meanwhile were playing their familiar game of LOBster ball. They managed to eke out the tying run in the second. Three singles loaded the bases with one out, then Kevin Newman hit into a force play, which is the Pirates’ version of getting a big hit. That scored Colin Moran from third, but Moran then left the game with lower back tightness.
The Pirates wasted a leadoff single in the third and a two-out double in the fourth. In the sixth, Jacob Stallings drilled a two-out home run to left-center, his fifth longball of the year, to put the Pirates ahead. They had a chance for more, as a walk, Ben Gamel’s second double of the game, and an intentional walk loaded the bases to Crowe. Shelton let him hit and he grounded out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Crowe walked the leadoff hitter when the home plate ump blew the call on a 3-2 pitch. So, having decided Crowe was pitching too well to remove for a pinch hitter, Shelton took him out for David Bednar. At that point, Crowe had allowed just two hits and a walk, and thrown just 82 pitches. No teaching moments for him; only for guys who are obviously struggling. Naturally, it took exactly one pitch to cost Crowe his chance of a win. Luis Urias tripled to tie the game and, two batters later, Avisail Garcia homered to put Milwaukee up, 4-2.
Things stayed on script after that. The Pirates stranded a couple runners in the seventh. Shelton went with Sam Howard, who’s pitched in half the team’s games, in the seventh. He gave up a run to make it 5-2. Geoff Hartlieb had a 1-2-3 eighth. The Pirates managed just a walk in the eighth and ninth.
With runners in scoring position, the Pirates went 1-for-7 (and the one didn’t drive in a run). Gamel had three hits, Frazier two.
Tomorrow the Pirates drag their losing streak and their manager to the nation’s capital.