Game Recap: Brault Returns, But Bullpen Blows It

The Pirates got Steven Brault back and he pitched well, but the hitters and bullpen weren’t up to it.  A late home run off Chasen Shreve cost them a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.

Brault didn’t have the most efficient outing, throwing 75 pitches in four innings.  A chunk of that came in the first inning, when he had to throw 25 pitches and still escaped without damage.  Brault gave up only three hits and a walk.  The one run he allowed came in the third, when Kolten Wong doubled and scored on a two-out single by Eduardo Escobar.  Considering it was Brault’s first major league game in ten months, it was encouraging.

The Pirates’ hitters did about as well against Freddy Peralta as can be expected.  They got two runs and six hits off him in six innings.  In 20 starts, that’s the most hits he’s allowed, and he’s allowed more than two runs only three times.

Brault left with a tie game, as Jacob Stallings had doubled in Bryan Reynolds, who’d walked, in the fourth.  They even took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Reynolds tripled and scored on a fly by John Nogowski.

Cody Ponce relieved Brault and was much better than usual.  He retired six straight, three on strikes, in the fifth and sixth.

With the relievers the Pirates have left now, though, and when they’re running through four or five every game, sooner or later somebody is going to run into trouble.  Kyle Keller got the first two batters in the seventh, but a walk and a single put two on.  Derek Shelton went with Shreve against left-handed pinch hitter Rowdy Tellez, and Shreve left a 2-2 fastball over the middle of the plate.  Tellez did what you’d expect with it, and it was 4-2, Brewers.

Shea Spitzbarth got through a shaky-looking eighth without allowing a run, but the Pirates’ offense was spent anyway.  Nothing new happened.  They managed to get three hits without scoring in the first.  They went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Maybe games like this will start to clarify things going forward, or maybe not.  Shreve is surviving on a (before today) .211 BABIP and 89.4% strand rate.  There’s no reason to think he’s a long-term piece.  Nogowski went 0-for-3; after a fun stretch, he’s turned back into John Nogowski, going 7-for-47 (.149) the last two weeks.  Wilmer Difo went 0-for-4.  Hoy Park, on the other hand, went 2-for-5 with a double, although, ominously, he played in the outfield again.  The Pirates have a lot of choices to make.  Most of them should be painfully obvious, but this is the Pirates.