The Pirates went with a bullpen game in the finale of their series with Cincinnati and, surprisingly, their struggling bullpen turned in an outstanding effort. Unfortunately, their attempt to reproduce a deadball era offense only succeeded in producing . . . a deadball era offense. The 1-0 loss left the Bucs 0-14 in series sweep attempts.
The bullpen game started with Connor Overton in his second Pirates appearance. He threw three scoreless innings and allowed two hits. Other than twice having runners reach second with two outs, he didn’t face much trouble.
Sam Howard managed to get through a scoreless, 30-pitch fourth inning. That brought on Cody Ponce. He went three innings and allowed only one hit. His timing could have been better, though, as it was a leadoff double in the seventh. A sacrifice and a fly ball brought the run home.
And that was it. Chasen Shreve gave up one hit in the eighth and Shelby Miller had a five-pitch ninth.
The Pirates’ offense was as futile as ever. All they managed was a few singles here and there, and a few stolen bases, which were offset by Ke’Bryan Hayes getting picked off second in the first inning. The offense also illustrated vividly the Pirates’ horrible roster construction.
The Bucs had their usual chances to score. When runners didn’t get picked off second, they just got left there. Ben Gamel managed to get to third with one out in the second, but Michael Perez bounced into the drawn-in infield and Gamel was thrown out easily at the plate. The team was a standard 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Pirates are now batting 215/310/319 in those situations, by far the worst in baseball.
Ben Cherington’s built-to-lose roster got in on the fun in the bottom of the third, with Overton due to lead off. To get a rally going, Derek Shelton sent up . . . Wil Crowe. The career .069 hitter struck out.
The Pirates didn’t threaten again until the ninth, when Gamel and Kevin Newman walked with one out. That brought up Perez, dragging his .140 average behind him. Shelton still had Anthony Alford and Jacob Stallings left on the bench, but we all know it’s against the rules to pinch hit with or for a catcher, as laid out in Hurdled: A Guide to 17th Century Baseball. And Shelton had to save Alford to pinch hit at some point or other. Besides, a backup catcher batting only .140 can’t do any harm because he’s only the backup catcher. So it didn’t matter that Perez flied out. Hoy Park then fanned to end the game.