Game Recap: Bullpen Hammered as Pirates Blow 5-0 Lead

The Pirates got off to an early 5-0 lead in the opener of their series against the Reds, but they spent the rest of the game looking like a 100-loss team.  Their hitters were obliterated by the Reds’ bullpen and their own bullpen trotted out the gophers as the Reds went on to win, 9-5.

The early going was fun.  The game’s second hitter, Yoshi Tsutsugo, having nobody to bunt over, lined his eighth home run of the year into the seats in right.  Bryan Reynolds then followed with his 24th.

In the third, the Pirates continued to go after Reds’ starter Vladimir Gutierrez.  Their own starter, Dillon Peters, led off with a walk.  Cole Tucker and Tsutsugo singled for one run, and Reynolds brought in another with a sacrifice fly.  Two more singles, by Colin Moran and Ben Gamel, made it 5-0.

Peters was excellent for two and two-thirds innings.  He allowed only one runner, and no hits, the first time through the order.  But the second time the Reds’ hitters saw him was a completely different story.  With two outs in the third, the top of the Reds’ order went walk, single, double, home run.  That made it 5-4.  Peters gave up another single before getting out of the inning on a line drive out.

Anthony Alford batted for Peters with one out in the fourth and singled, finishing Gutierrez.  That also finished the Pirates’ offense.  Alford was thrown out stealing and the team’s hitters took the rest of the day off.  The Reds’ relievers retired the next 13 batters.

In contrast to the Reds’ relievers, the Pirates’ bullpen showed why it’s no different from the rest of the team in needing a near-complete turnover in personnel.  Cody Ponce got through one inning, but in the fifth he gave up back-to-back home runs to Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez, putting the Reds up, 6-5.  Votto’s bomb was his second in the game.

Connor Overton had a 1-2-3 sixth (he’s still new), but Kyle Keller recorded only two outs in the seventh.  He gave up a home run to Kyle Farmer, making this the 15th of his 28 outings in which he’s been scored upon.  Keller then loaded the bases with a walk and two singles.  Derek Shelton brought in Enyel De Los Santos, whom the Pirates claimed off waivers because he was there.  De Los Santos walked in a run before getting the third out.  That made it 8-5, but De Los Santos wasn’t done.  In the eighth, he gave up another run on a hit batsman, a balk and a single.

Gamel finally broke the string of futility by leading off the ninth with a double, but that just gave the Pirates a chance to make three more outs with somebody in scoring position.  That included a ground out from Michael Perez, who went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .135.  Perez has started 50 games this year and gone hitless in 33 of them, including ten of his last 11.  He has the lowest average by any player with 180+ at-bats in a season since . . . well, I don’t know.  I went back to the 2000 season and gave up.  It’s really hard to find players as awful as the ones Ben Cherington has been foisting on Pirates fans the last two years.

UPDATE:  Got a note from a site member.  Perez’ average is the lowest for anybody with 180+ PA since Ray Oyler in 1968.  The last one before that is back in the deadball era.  Just more ineptitude on a historic level for this team.