In the four games since they last played and swept the Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates have played like near polar opposite teams. After being no-hit by Lucas Giolito, shown how high powered the White Sox offense can be and taking both games of a double header from the Cardinals, I was not really sure what Pirates team was going to show up in Milwaukee this evening. To go along with this was the uncertainty of which Derek Holland would take the mound. In three of his starts Holland has allowed less than two runs, while striking out five each time and has lasted between five and six innings. In his other two starts he has given up a total of thirteen runs in 10 2/3 innings, but still struck out eleven batters during this time.
On the Brewers end, they would be sending out Corbin Burnes, who the Pirates roughed up a little bit in his last outing this past Sunday. In 5 1/3 innings Burnes allowed three runs on five hits, ultimately earning a no-decision when Freddy Peralta blew a save in the bottom of the 8th inning. So, would the Pirates experience the same level of success against Burnes and Milwaukee as they had over last weekend or were the Brewers set up to exact revenge?
Luckily for the Pirates it seemed that in the beginning they were going to get the better performing version of Holland as he showed great command of his pitches, striking out five Brewers in the first two innings. His lone mistake being a first pitch fastball to Jedd Gyorko, which he pounded over the left field wall for a home run.
Unfortunately their luck came to an end in the bottom of the third when Holland hit the leadoff batter and promptly gave up a double to Luis Urias. Then after almost working his way out of this jam, he gave up his second home run of the night, a three run jack to Ryan Braun; putting the Pirates behind 4-0 to begin the 4th. In the bottom of the fifth Holland found himself in trouble again, walking a batter before giving up another home run to Jacob Nottingham; making the deficit 6-0. By the bottom of the 5th it started to feel like deja vu. After putting two batters on with free passes, a Mark Mathias double brought in both to extend the Brewers lead to 8-0 and ended Holland’s night. Holland did strike a season high of eight on 100 pitches, but the four walks and eight runs on six hits, three of them home runs, dwarfed this accomplishment on a night inside Milwaukee’s dome.
For the Brewers, Burnes looked like a completely different pitcher than the one that the Pirates faced less than a week ago. Through six innings he was nearly untouchable as he struck out ten, while giving up only two singles to Josh Bell and one to Jacob Stallings. In the top of the seventh he was replaced by David Phelps, who looked to be picking up where Burnes left off by striking out the first two Pirates batters. However, the next batter, JT Riddle put a 1-1 cutter into the right field stands to put Pittsburgh on the board, but still trailing 8-1.
In the bottom of the sixth the recently recalled Nick Mears took the mound for the Pirates and made quick work of the Brewers, striking out two on his way to a 1-2-3 inning. His 15 pitch inning earned him another shot at the Brewers lineup. After getting Keston Hiura to ground out to second baseman, Mears surrendered a center field shot to Gyorko for his second home run of the night. Following another strike out and a single, Mears was lifted in favor of the left hander Sam Howard, who recorded the third out of the inning. At the end of seven the score was the Brewers 9 and the Pirates 1. It would remain this way for the rest of the game as the bats went silent for the both clubs, improving the Brewers record to 14-17 while the Pirates dropped to 9-20.
The second game of this four game series is scheduled for tomorrow evening at 7:10 PM EST as JT Brubaker (0-0, 4.80 ERA) takes the mound for Pirates, facing off against Brett Anderson (2-2, 3.52 ERA for the Brewers.