Jonathan Sanchez allowed only one walk in his Pirates debut, but gave up six hits.
Jonathan Sanchez could not close the strong opening act he provided in his Pirates, and with no help from the punchless offense, the Pirates lost 3-0 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
The Buccos’ left-handed starter surprisingly commanded the strike zone well, but was charged with all three runs by serving up an Andre Ethier home run and back-to-back RBI doubles to the heart of the Dodgers’ expensive lineup to earn the loss in front of a fireworks crowd of 40,607 fans.
Sanchez relied on his fastball early on. His first 10 pitches were all four-seam fastballs, as were 45 of his first 58 overall pitches. The results were very good. The lefty allowed only two hits and no walks in the first four innings, though one of those hits hurt.
In the second, Andre Ethier smacked a 2-2 fastball into the right field seats for the first Dodgers home run since pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s surprise dinger on Opening Day.
Sanchez pitched around trouble in the fifth inning. A.J. Ellis doubled to the left field corner, and a batter later, Zack Greinke singled sharply into left. Ellis was held at third to avoid being gunned down by Starling Marte. Sanchez got out of the inning by getting Crawford to swing and miss at a nice slider (Mike McKenry calls it his out pitch) for the strikeout.
The Pirates’ bats were even colder than they had been in chilly Pittsburgh, the team that hit only .144 against the Cubs. The only hit for the Bucs early on probably should have been in error. It was a Garrett Jones second-inning single that hopped oddly in the grass in front of second baseman Mark Ellis and off his glove. Zack Greinke proceeded to retire the next 14 Pirates hitters, including four strikeouts in a row. He was pulled to a standing ovation after allowing a seventh-inning single to Andrew McCutchen, a debut well done (6.1 scoreless innings, 2 hits, 6 strikeouts).
Sanchez’s strong foundation crumbled in the sixth. He issued his first walk to Mark Ellis, then served up back-to-back RBI doubles. Matt Kemp lined a changeup into right-center for an RBI double (the center fielder’s first hit of the season), then Adrian Gonzalez did the same down the right-field line to score Kemp and put the Dodgers up 3-0.
Sanchez then exited for Jeanmar Gomez, who put out the fire with a groundball and lineout double play, with help from the poor baserunning of Gonzalez and Luis Cruz. The starter was losing velocity on his fastball, sitting 89 after pumping it as high as 93 miles per hour early on. The command, with only one walk and 61% strikes, was a plus, but Sanchez was hit hard to allow four of his six hits as extra-base hits.
Gomez was solid in his own Pirates debut as the Bucs’ only reliever. The right-hander pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only a sharply-hit single to Mark Ellis that bounced under the glove of a diving Pedro Alvarez.
The Dodgers have gone 29-7 in their last 36 games against the Bucs at Chavez Ravine. The Pirates will have to address their so-far inept offense, as they generated only three baserunners against the Dodgers’ staff of Greinke, Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League. None of those Pirates on base got past first, as McCutchen was thrown out in a steal attempt by A.J. Ellis at second base.