The Pirates got a rough start from Steven Brault, then came back from a 5-0 deficit thanks to Anthony Alford’s first career two-homer game. In the end, though, baseball’s worst offense was once again hopelessly overmatched against the Cubs’ makeshift bullpen and the Pirates lost, 6-5, for the second straight day.
It was a Bad Brault start from the beginning. He did manage to escape a first-and-third, no-out situation in the first. Michael Perez helped, fielding a bunt attempt in front of the plate and lunging back to tag the runner.
But it was downhill after that. Brault’s command was poor, leading to four walks in four innings. He also managed to allow a single, double and home run to journeyman fringe guy Michael Hermosillo, who came into the game batting .138. Hermosillo drove in two in a three-run second and led off the fourth with the home run. The Cubs also got a run in between, so they led, 5-0, after four.
The Pirates got on the board in the fifth, though, when Alford launched a 469-foot blast into the street behind the left field stands. The next batter, Hoy Park, hit a long homer of his own, his second of the year, to right.
In the sixth, the Pirates tied the game, largely by employing their most effective offensive strategy: relying on the kindness of strangers. A one-out error and a single got them started. The inning should have ended when Perez grounded hard to second, but shortstop Sergio Alcantara Pedro’d the relay to first, letting a run score. Alford then tied the game with a 435-foot drive to center, his fourth home run of the year.
But that was it for the Pirates’ offense. After Alford’s second bomb, the Cubs went to their nondescript bullpen, starting with Trevor Megill and his 10.54 ERA. Three relievers faced ten Pirates and retired all of them, seven on strikes. Rowan Wick struck out the side in the ninth on 11 pitches. For the day, the Pirates whiffed 13 times, with Ben Gamel wearing the golden sombrero.
The Pirates got three scoreless innings combined from Anthony Banda, Chasen Shreve and Nick Mears. In the bottom of the sixth, though, Shelby Miller served up a gopher ball to 29-year-old rookie Frank Schwindel. And that was all the Cubs needed.