The Pirates are honing their skills as the season draws to a close. A few days ago, they blew a 5-0 lead. Today they did a bit better, blowing a 6-0 lead. Ben Cherington’s efforts to build a pitching staff out of other teams’ rejects looked as pointless as ever, as the Pirates went on to lose to the Phillies, 12-6.
Things certainly looked good early on. In the second, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out. Michael Perez struck out, of course. (He went 0-for-4 to drop back a fraction below the magical .140 barrier.) But Connor Overton managed a bloop down the left field line that Freddy Galvis and Andrew McCutchen both carefully avoided. It dropped for a two-run single, Overton’s first career hit. Even better, Ke’Bryan Hayes followed with his sixth home run of the year and first in nearly seven weeks, putting the Pirates up, 5-0.
In the third, Colin Moran made it 6-0 with a long blast to right. It was his ninth longball of the season, vaulting him into a tie for 41st place among all first basemen, one ahead of Connor Joe.
And then the Pirates’ hitters returned to their native, coma-like state. Despite the early battering, Aaron Nola stayed in and lasted six innings. Then the Phillies’ bullpen got some practice. Over the last six innings, the Pirates managed one baserunner. That was a walk to Bryan Reynolds, which Moran followed by hitting into a double play.
Overton retired the first six batters he faced, but then he confirmed that he was indeed a Cherington waiver pickup. Didi Gregorius led off the bottom of the third with a home run and, after an out, Overton walked Nola. Before long, Overton left with three runs in and a runner on. Cody Ponce let that one score and one of his own, but he did manage in the fourth to get his ERA under 7.00. Perez contributed his first two passed balls of the year to the inning, as the lead dropped to 6-5.
Other than Nick Mears, who faced only one batter, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster. Anthony Banda gave up a three-run pinch-hit home run to Ronald Torreyes to put the Phillies up, 8-6. Chad Kuhl gave up a two-run bomb to J.T. Realmuto. Kuhl now has an ERA of 8.71 as a reliever. And, finally, Enyel De Los Santos, whom the Pirates claimed off waivers on purpose ten days ago, gave up two runs in the eighth to bring the count to 12-6.