When left on their own, the Pirates did fine against Miami, getting a timely hit or two and some even more timely defensive blunders to beat the Marlins and Derek Shelton, 6-3. They also got a solid start from Bryse Wilson and a good performance from their bullpen.
The game was remarkable for the manner in which things mostly went wrong on offense only when Shelton involved himself. In fact, the Marlins were much more helpful than Shelton.
It all started in the first. Ke’Bryan Hayes led off with a double, but the next three batters whiffed in standard Pirate fashion. Except the Marlins intervened and Hayes scored amidst the whiffery on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
The second and third innings were more standard Pirate stuff. They loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Wilson and Hayes struck out. In the third, an Anthony Alford double put runners at second and third with two outs, but Michael Perez struck out on a pitch low and inside.
In the fourth, Shelton got involved. Cole Tucker, who had three hits in the game, led off with a triple. Hoy Park lined out, so Shelton had Wilson try a safety squeeze. Wilson bunted hard to first and Tucker was out at the plate. But the Marlins came through again. Hayes’ second double put runners at second and third. Kevin Newman popped up to shallow right, but right fielder Jesus Sanchez bumped into the second baseman and dropped the ball. The play was ludicrously scored a hit at first, but the ruling was changed to a two-run error. That made it 3-0.
In the fifth, Shelton got in the way again, but the Pirates seemed to take it as a challenge. With two on and nobody out, Shelton had Perez bunt. Predictably, he bunted into a force at third. Tucker fanned, but Park hit a long triple to left center to put the Pirates up, 5-0.
While this was going on, Wilson was mostly breezing. He got some help in the first in the form of a line drive double play with a runner on second. He allowed only one more runner until the fifth, when he ran into a mild case of one-bad-inning syndrome. Nick Forte, making his major league debut, hit a two-run bomb to make the score 5-2.
Wilson threw only 68 pitches through five, but Shelton sent Enyel De Los Santos out to make his Pirates debut in the sixth. De Los Santos didn’t throw an over-abundance of strikes, but he had a 1-2-3 inning. Sam Howard did the same in the seventh.
The Pirates meanwhile had added another run in the top of the seventh. Their first two batters walked, then Perez hit into a force at second. That dropped Perez’ average to .138, which ranks him 376th among 376 major leaguers with 170+ at-bats. Perez had never attempted a steal in the majors before (imagine that . . .), so of course Shelton couldn’t resist sending him. That ended just like you’d expect. Tucker, though, refused to give in to despair and singled in a run to make the score 6-3. The Pirates finished 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, a regular barrage of clutch hitting by their standards.
Kyle Keller had a quick eighth with the help of a double play. He gave up a leadoff single in the ninth, which brought on Chasen Shreve. He walked a batter with two outs, then got a popup on which Hayes seemed to lose his way while traversing the mound. The ball dropped for a run-scoring single, but Shreve got a strikeout to end it.
Tomorrow the Pirates go for the sweep! What can go wrong?