The Pirates once again found themselves in COVID limbo, this time with a member of the Cincinnati Reds testing positive for the virus. This caused more games to be postponed, with the Saturday and Sunday match ups being canceled. Anyways, the Pirates were back in action tonight and unfortunately it ended in a Pittsburgh extra innings loss in their series opener against the Cleveland Indians.
JT Brubaker was on the hill for the Pirates, and he was able to get around a walk and an error to get through the first inning. In the bottom of the first, the Pirates wasted no time getting to Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. A Kevin Newman double and a two-out single that got through the shift by Colin Moran gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at the end of 1.
In the top of the third, the Indians were able to get on the board. The inning started with Cesar Hernandez hitting a ball to the wall in center for a double. After back-to-back walks from José Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana lined one to center for a single that scored a pair. The next batter, Franmil Reyes, hit a high fly ball to center that was tracked down by Jarrod Dyson on the warning track, and Lindor scored. A little bit about this play: StatCast had Dyson running 75 feet and the catch probability was at 5 percent. If the catch had not been made, there was a possibility that two scored and Reyes would have been standing on second. Instead Brubaker settled down and the score was only 3-1 after that inning.
Derek Holland, who last pitched ten days ago on the eighth of this month, got a chance to pitch out of the bullpen. There was speculation after the Pirates pushed his start back that he might have been traded, which was a really bad take. After a rough start against the Tigers his last time out, he really came back tonight, pitching two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Carlos Carrasco cruised after the Pirates scored in the first inning, not allowing hardly any offense until the bottom of the fifth inning. After a Moran strikeout, Adam Frazier singled to left and Kevin Newman walked. On the first pitch of Josh Bell’s at-bat, Carrasco bounced one that turned into a wild pitch, moving the runners up to 2nd and 3rd. The very next pitch, Josh Bell banged a changeup into the right-center gap for a double to score both runners and tie the game up at 3.
There were a lot of close calls in a few innings, but both the Pirates and Indians bullpens were able to shut down the offense. Chris Stratton, Nik Turley, Richard Rodriguez, and Keone Kela all helped with a scoreless inning each. Óliver Pérez, Cam Hill, Phil Maton, James Karinchak, and Nick Wittgren all contributed to Cleveland shutting Pittsburgh down.
I want to talk about the bottom of the ninth. Jarrod Dyson led off the inning with a ground ball off of the first baseman Ramírez, and they called it a single. Jacob Stallings then attempted to sacrifice Dyson over, and the pitcher Nick Wittgren went to second, where Dyson was safe, and then Stallings was safe on the throw to first. Two on, nobody out, seems like a recipe for a Pirates win. Except it was the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dyson got caught too far off of second, the catcher Roberto Perez noticed that, and Dyson was picked off at second base. The Pirates challenged, and it actually looked like shortstop Francisco Lindor blocked Dyson with his cleat. The call indeed stood and now there was a runner on first with one out. Adam Frazier lined out, and then Kevin Newman got his third hit on the day, this one a single to move the runner to second. Cole Tucker then came in to pinch run, but Josh Bell struck out to send the game to extras.
Sam Howard, who came into the game pitching pretty well, got the task of pitching the top of the 10th inning. The first batter, José Ramirez, struck out after 8 pitches. Francisco Lindor was hit with a pitch on a 1-2 count, bringing Carlos Santana to the plate. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Santana hooked one down the left-field line that looked like it was foul with the naked eye. Even Santana went back to get ready to hit. Instead, the umpire called it fair and the Indians had the lead. After a long replay review, the umpires, along with New York, decided that the ball had gone over the foul pole. I saw a few angles, and one of them showed the ball going left of the pole, but one of them looked like it went over it. Everybody in the stadium thought it was foul, including the batter, but nevertheless, the Indians had a 6-3 lead. The Indians closer Brad Hand locked it down in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Pirates another loss, dropping their record to 4-15.
The Pirates will give Steven Brault (0-0, 5.14 ERA) the start tomorrow against a young Cleveland Indians starter, Aaron Civale (2-2, 3.60 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 P.M.