Sometimes, baseball just doesn’t go according to script. Like yesterday, when baseball’s worst-hitting team routed the Giants and their ace starter.
Then there was today. Everything went exactly according to script. The Pirates failed at a chance for their first sweep of the year. They went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. J.T. Brubaker gave up dingerz. And Derek Shelton inserted his special brand of strategery at just the right time to seal the loss. Which was, by the way, 6-1 to San Francisco.
The Pirates got a quick lead when Bryan Reynolds singled and John Nogowski doubled him home in the first. Brubaker, meanwhile, didn’t pitch badly. He fanned six and allowed just three hits and a walk over four innings. Unfortunately, two of the hits were home runs, both by the Giants’ journeyman fill-in guy LaMonte Gehrig.
Still, it was a close game, 2-1, after four. But Shelton came to the rescue. He had Brubaker lead off the fifth, then replaced him in the bottom of the inning with Duane Underwood, Jr., whose 5.03 ERA made him the perfect candidate for a one-run game. Underwood survived the fifth despite walking the pitcher and giving up a double to Gehrig.
In the sixth, Shelton’s strategery bore fruit. The Pirates’ MLB-worst offense set the stage. They loaded the bases with one out, only to have Kevin Newman bounce into a double play. Shelton stuck with Underwood, despite the warning signs in the fifth. So, with one out, Wilmer Flores homered. Not content with a 3-1 deficit, Shelton stuck with Underwood for a double and two singles, with a steal and an error thrown in. That made it 5-1, so it was safe to go with Chasen Shreve to get the last two outs.
Nick Mears pitched the ninth. He fanned a couple, but did serve up a gopher ball. The Pirates went down meekly the last three innings.