The Pirates’ bullpen again showed that cheapness is its only selling point, helping the team to an 8-6 loss to the Phillies. They again took an early lead, this time three runs, and again the relievers just kept giving up runs.
The Pirates started off with Sam Howard as the opener. I don’t know whether this was the plan, but it made sense considering that the Phillies had left-handed hitters, Odubel Herrera and Bryce Harper, batting first and third. Whether it was strategery or not, Howard struck out the side. You wonder whether they should do this more often — Who would you rather have facing Harper in the first inning, Howard or or Wil Crowe?
Miguel Yajure came out for the second inning and got off to a great start, retiring the first five hitters he faced. And then his mound opponent, Kyle Gibson, took him deep.
The Pirates, meanwhile, had no hits off Gibson over the first three innings, making nine straight hitless innings for the Phillies against the Pirates.
Bryan Reynolds finally broke that string with a leadoff single in the fourth. A walk and hit batsman loaded the bases to Kevin Newman, who doubled in two. Then Michael Perez singled in two more. The Pirates led, 4-3.
Yajure didn’t have a meltdown, but it wasn’t a great outing. He gave up another dinger in the fourth, then allowed a run on two doubles in the fifth. Shelby Miller got the last out in that inning.
With Yajure out of the game, the Pirates’ bullpen continued building the case that it contains few if any long-term answers. Miller stayed in for the sixth, but faced only three hitters and retired only one, partly due to Hoy Park failing to make a play at short. Nick Mears came in and let both runners score on a wild pitch and a single, putting the Phillies up, 5-4.
The Pirates took the lead back in the top of the seventh, but it didn’t last long. Wilmer Difo came up to pinch hit with a man on and hit his third pinch-homer of the year, fourth longball over all. That made it 6-5, Pirates, but Chasen Shreve gave up a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning to Didi Gregorius.
The Pirates had a chance in the eighth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Ke’Bryan Hayes bounced back to the pitcher. They got two on in the ninth, but Newman flied out to end it.