Here’s hoping if you stayed up past midnight last night it was to watch Monday Night Football and not the 14-inning shame show the Pirates put on in Cincinnati. The Pirates found a way to score runs against Mat Latos and they forced Aroldis Chapman into his worst appearance of the year yet they somehow managed to drop the first game of this crucial series 4-3.
In 2 previous starts against the Bucs, Latos hadn’t given up a single run and he’d struck out 16 in 13.1 innings. Last night, the Bucs scored all 3 of their runs off Latos in the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen hit another solo homer to lead it off and after Garrett Jones fouled out, Jose Tabata hit a ground-rule double sandwiched between a Pedro Alvarez and a Clint Barmes walk. Bases loaded. 1 out. Rod Barajas and Wandy Rodriguez took advantage of the loaded bases because they each drove in a run to put the Bucs up 3-0.
Too bad that was the only time the Bucs would capitalize on a bases loaded situation. Once the game headed into extra innings, the Bucs failed to do anything with the bases juiced in the 10th and in the 14th, and that time there were no outs when it happened. After that it was guaranteed that the Reds were going to end it in the bottom half, and they did when Ryan Ludwick - of course it was Ryan Ludwick – ended the game with a RBI base hit that didn’t even leave the infield.
You don’t blame this one on Rick VandenHurk, who was making his first major league appearance since last September, for giving up the game-winning hit. You don’t blame this loss on any of the seven pitchers that threw for the Bucs last night. They held Cincy’s offense that averages over 8 hits a game to just 8 hits IN A 14-INNING GAME. The Pirates pitchers had Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce go a combined 1 for 15 with 5 K’s.
Wandy not only tried to help his own cause by driving in the Bucs’ third run, he pitched a hell of a game. He had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 16, but he started the game by retiring the first 10 batters he faced. The first hit he gave up was a solo homer in the fourth, and he followed that by retiring 8 of the next 9 batter he faced – he was cruising. Then for some reason, after Wandy gave up 2 weak hits in the seventh, Clint Hurdle decided to yank Wandy with 2 outs. Jared Hughes gave up a 2-run double to the first batter he faced to tie the game at 3. Wandy had only thrown 89 pitches and he was killing it on the mound. It was a terrible call for sure.
Hurdle made a couple of questionable moves last night but the main reason the Bucs lost this one is because they couldn’t hit the ball when they needed to – SHOCKER. Like we said, they stranded the bases loaded TWICE, they stranded 15 total, they went 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position (a pitcher and BARAJAS were the two to record those hits) and not one of the six pinch hitters used last night recorded a hit. Pedro Alvarez was 0 for 6 with a golden sombrero. Brock Holt was 1 for 7. Garrett Jones was 0 for 4.
We thought the huge 19-inning win was going to be the kick in the ass the Bucs needed in the second half but they’ve gone 5-14 since. Something tells us this loss isn’t going to have an opposite effect. The Pirartes are still only 2.5 games out of the wild card but they’ll probably find a way to lose tonight or tomorrow…