The Pirates actually gave the very tough White Sox a good game, but the departure of Rick Eckstein doesn’t change the fact that they have baseball’s worst offense. That and Chasen Shreve’s inability to throw strikes cost them a 4-2 loss.
Bryse Wilson didn’t have a bad start. He gave up solo home runs to Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu in the second and third innings. Other than that, Chicago didn’t do much over the first five innings beyond a one-out double in the first and a two-out one after Grandal’s homer.
Right at the start, the Pirates showed their offense is still their offense. The game’s first hitter, Ben Gamel, reached third with no outs on a walk, a steal and a wild throw. And there he stayed. Wilmer Difo and Bryan Reynolds both popped up and Colin Moran grounded out. Ironically, according to FanGraphs, the Pirates hit infield flies at the lowest rate in the majors other than the White Sox. They’re obviously careful to save them all until they have a runner at third with less than two outs.
Still, the Pirates tied the game in the fifth. They got runners to the corners with one out on a Hoy Park single, a wild pitch and an infield hit by Gamel. Sox starter Lucas Giolito made sure the Bucs couldn’t flub this one by throwing another wild pitch, then left with an injury. Moran eventually singled with two outs to tie the game, 2-2.
That was the end of the Pirates’ offense. They managed only one baserunner against the Chicago bullpen over the final four innings, and that one was wiped out by a game-ending double play.
Wilson got into trouble in the sixth when two leadoff singles put runners at the corners. Derek Shelton went to Chasen Shreve against the switch-hitting Grandal and the struggling, left-handed hitting Brian Goodwin, who has a .262 OPS against LHPs. Shreve walked Grandal and then also Goodwin, bringing home the go-ahead run. Leury Garcia made it 4-2 with a sacrifice fly. On the season, Shreve has walked 4.8 per nine innings. He’s survived on a .216 BABIP, which is why his xFIP is 5.29. Nick Mears and Sam Howard followed with a scoreless inning each, but it didn’t matter.