Roansy Contreras’ major league debut wasn’t lengthy, but it went well. He couldn’t, though, do anything about the Pirates’ hapless hitters, leaving the team with a 3-2 loss to the Cubs.
Contreras threw three shutout innings, staying in for 46 pitches, 29 of them strikes. He gave up three hits and a walk, and fanned four. He gave up a pair of singles in the first, but got a strikeout and ground out to end that inning. A caught stealing wiped out the one walk in the second, and a two-out double in the third amounted to nothing.
The Pirates’ offense did what it does. They wasted a two-out triple by their major league hitter in the first and left a runner on second in the second.
In the third, Derek Shelton sent Wil Crowe up to hit for Contreras leading off the inning. If the team’s roster is really constructed so incompetently that they can’t afford to send a hitter up, why not just let Contreras bat and then send in a reliever? Is Crowe’s career .063 average that tempting?
Anyway, the Pirates got two on with nobody out in the fourth and successfully avoided scoring. In the top of the fifth, Shelton sent Sam Howard out for his second inning and he gave up a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Their major league hitter hit his second triple of the game, this one with a man on and nobody out. A walk and hit batsman loaded the bases, which unleashed . . . a sacrifice fly by Kevin Newman. Michael Perez then struck out and Hoy Park grounded out. Perez went 0-for-4 and is back down to .138. Perez has now started 55 games and gone hitless in 37 of them.
The 2-1 lead didn’t last long. Chasen Shreve came on for the seventh and gave up a double and a walk. He left with two on and two out, and Nick Mears promptly gave up a two-run double.
The Pirates’ hitters packed it in after that, getting just two runners, both on walks, in the last three innings. One of those disappeared when Cole Tucker got picked off. The Pirates went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Their relievers allowed seven hits and seven walks in six innings, but the Cubs were nearly as bad when it counted as the Pirates.
The loss was the Pirates’ 99th of the season. Texas is getting hammered by the Angels as I write this, so the Pirates will probably remain a game behind the Rangers in the race to be MLB’s third-worst team.