Game Recap: Missed Chances Leave Pirates Assured of Losing Season

The Pirates lost a close game the way bad teams lose them, clinching a losing season with their 82nd loss.  They missed chances to score runs, while also blundering about on the bases and in the outfield, leaving them with a 4-3 loss to St. Louis.

Dillon Peters looked good for a while, starting off with four shutout innings.  He started by escaping a jam when Paul Goldschmidt tripled with one out in the first.  Peters stranded him by getting Tyler O’Neill on a popup and Nolan Arenado on a fly ball.  After quick innings in the second and third, he escaped a two-on jam in the fourth with a double play.

In the fifth, though, things came undone.  Two doubles and a Tommy Edman home run put the Cards up, 3-0.  One more double, which Yoshi Tsutsugo had in his glove, followed, but Peters got the third out on a line drive.

The Pirates meanwhile were once again making J.A. Happ look like a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.  They got only three hits off him in five and two-thirds innings.  In four starts, Happ has a 1.80 ERA against the Bucs, compared to 6.73 in 19 starts against major league lineups.  They’ve batted .134 against him.  Michael Chavis helped Happ by getting picked off first in the fourth.

The Pirates did manage to get a couple runs off Happ, but it should have been more.  In the fifth, Jacob Stallings led off with a single, one of three hits on the day, and Tsutsugo followed with a triple.  Tsutsugo got stranded, though, when Kevin Newman lined out, Anthony Alford fanned and Ben Gamel lined out after a walk to pinch hitter Wilmer Difo.

The score tightened to 3-2 in the sixth.  With two out, Colin Moran walked to end Happ’s day.  Against Luis Garcia, Stallings singled and Tsutsugo walked to load the bases, but Alford again struck out.

Duane Underwood, Jr., threw a scoreless sixth, but gave up a run in the seventh that wasn’t entirely his fault.  With one out, Gamel, playing center with Bryan Reynolds getting a rest, and Tsutsugo turned a Paul DeJong double into a triple.  That hurt, because Edman followed with a sacrifice fly.  Nick Mears and Chris Stratton held the Cards scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

The Pirates had another chance to tie the game in the eighth.  Chavis led off with a double and Moran singled him home to make the score 4-3.  Moran made it to second with two outs on a ground out.  According to Statcast, among major leaguers who’ve had at least ten “opportunities” and who aren’t catchers, Moran runs faster than Albert Pujols, Mike Ford, Pablo Sandoval and . . . nobody else.  He’s even slower than Miguel Cabrera.  A competent manager would run for Moran.  Derek Shelton . . . no.  Kevin Newman grounded a single through the middle and Harrison Bader, considering the hitter, was playing very shallow.  Naturally, Joey Cora sent Moran and he was out by a lot.

The Pirates had a last chance in the ninth.  Alford, trying to make amends, led off with a single and stole second.  But there he remained.  The team clinched a losing season with three games left in August.