The old saying is, “That’s why they play the games.” Except sometimes they don’t really need to. This was one of those times, as the Pirates’ minor league lineup had to face Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes. The Brewers won easily, 7-2, extending their winning streak to nine and the most recent of the Pirates’ many losing streaks to four.
The one good thing about the day was that Adam Frazier was officially named the NL’s starting second baseman for the All-Star Game. It’s a well deserved honor for a guy who came into the game second in the league in batting at .327, and tied for second in both hits and doubles.
But there was a game. Burnes didn’t figure to have much trouble against a lineup featuring three players with an OPS+ of 65 or lower. He breezed through seven and a third innings, allowing just four hits and a walk. The only damage was Ben Gamel’s third home run of the year. Burnes got help from another in the Pirates’ endless series of blunders. Jacob Stallings was on first when Gamel flied out to the track in right center. Jackie Bradley, Jr., successfully deked Stallings, fooling him into thinking the ball would drop. Bradley made the routine catch and caught Stallings straying far off first. But, hey, it’s the only way the Pirates can get on the MLB Network highlights.
Wil Crowe had the standard not-too-bad start that the Pirates like to enthuse over. He gave up two runs, but lasted just four and two-thirds as he needed 95 pitches. The two runs came in the second, on a walk, a Jace Peterson triple and a Bradley double. Crowe left with two on and Sam Howard needed just one pitch to end the fifth.
Clay Holmes came out for the sixth and failed to retire a batter, giving up a hit and three walks, and also committing a balk. Chris Stratton came on with a run in and the bases loaded, and managed to get three outs with only one more run scoring. That made it 4-1, Brewers.
Chasen Shreve and Duane Underwood, Jr., each threw a scoreless inning. Richard Rodriguez, with nothing better to do, came on for the ninth and didn’t exactly enhance his trade value. Four hits produced three runs to put Milwaukee up, 7-1.
The Pirates managed a run in the ninth off roster filler Alec Bettinger when Ke’Bryan Hayes and Jacob Stallings both doubled. That actually improved Bettinger’s ERA.
Erik Gonzalez left the game with right side discomfort. If he misses any time, Ben Cherington will face the challenge of finding a replacement who’s even worse. Or the Pirates can just play shorthanded. Gregory Polanco is dealing with hip inflammation, so the Pirates could end up with pitchers in the field. The question is, Will anybody notice?