Game Recap: Clash of the Titans

The spent force met the dilapidated object tonight as the Pirates hosted the Diamondbacks.  Both teams did their best, but in the end Arizona’s three straight eighth-inning walks beat the Pirates’ 1-for-10 w/RISP, and the D’backs came away with a 6-5 loss.

Wil Crowe had a pretty typical start.  He gave up an early dinger — the 19th he’s allowed in just 89 innings — to Daulton Varsho in the second, then pitched well for a couple innings.  Kevin Newman helped prevent further troubles in the second with a spectacular play in the hole.

But things came apart in the fifth, when Crowe gave up four runs.  Yes, there was a goofy infield single, but Crowe gave up a leadoff double to mound opponent Humberto Mejia, hit a batter, and ultimately gave up a bases-loaded drive off the wall in right-center that went for a three-run single.  Chasen Shreve had to get the last out of the inning.  This is a pattern for Crowe.  He has ERAs of 3.18 in the third inning and 3.71 in the fourth, but 6.17 in the fifth, which may be an indication that his stuff just wears thin too quickly for him to start.

The Pirates had less success with Mejia, a decent prospect who came in with a career ERA of 5.40 in limited major league experience and 5.93 in AAA.  Baseball America refers to his stuff as “pedestrian,” but it was enough to hold the Pirates to two runs over five innings, with seven strikeouts.

The Pirates got a run in the fourth, which at the time tied the game, when Colin Moran and Jacob Stallings led off with doubles.  Stallings was stranded when Gregory Polanco, whom the team was showcasing for possible waiver claimants, struck out, and Michael Chavis and Crowe (after a walk to Newman) were retired.  Polanco finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.  He’s played 103 games for the Pirates this year and gone hitless in 52 of them.  Chavis, in his Pirates debut, was also 0-for-4.

After Arizona took a 5-1 lead against Crowe, the Pirates came back.  In the fifth, Ben Gamel led off with a triple and eventually scored on a grounder by Bryan Reynolds.  In the seventh, Yoshi Tsutsugo, in his first PNC Park at-bat, led off with his third home run in 18 at-bats since joining the Pirates.  He lined the ball into the seats in right, which raised the question whether PNC might be a good place for Tsutsugo.

The Pirates went on in the seventh to tie the game.  Reynolds hit a one-out triple to drive in Ke’Bryan Hayes, who’d walked.  Reynolds came home on a chopper by Moran that left the drawn-in infield with no play at home.  That made it 5-5.

The Pirates’ bullpen meanwhile was keeping the D’backs off the board.  Shreve ended up going an inning and a third, Chad Kuhl threw a  scoreless inning, and Anthony Banda fanned the side in the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth, the D’backs showed they wanted the loss more than the Pirates did.  With one out, three straight walks loaded the bases to Hayes.  He had a long at-bat, getting ahead 3-0, taking a strike, then fouling off five straight pitches.  He finally hit a high chopper over the mound that Arizona could only turn into an out at first, making it 6-5, Pirates.

David Bednar — who’s one definite difference between the two teams — set the D’backs down in order in the ninth.  That gave him his second career save and maybe moved him another step toward becoming the closer that Derek Shelton says the Pirates don’t have.