There probably isn’t a more important storyline to tonight’s ball game beyond Joe Musgrove returning to the mound. I expected a shorter start tonight but his three strong innings and command made it look perfectly reasonable to let him stretch it a bit and start the 4th, after allowing the first two batters to reach, Derek Shelton pulled Joe in favor of Nick Tropeano who promptly gave up a missle of a homerun to Javier Baez to make the score 3-1.
So Nick now has an ERA and Joe’s went up, but Tropeano and Holland combined to keep the score there through the 6th.
Holland would surrender hits in the seventh, Holland would surrender runs in the seventh, Holland was hurt by bad baseball behind him in the seventh. Alford made a bad throw in on a single to left allowing a runner to advance turning a potential DP ball into a Rizzo 2 run single, then Colin Moran missed a pop up in fair territory that put runners at the corners again. Holland would work out of it from there.
In the Box score, it will look like Holland blew up in the 7th, but this could have easily been a scoreless inning.
As I mentioned earlier today in a piece about the Pirates roster construction issues Anthony Alford is one of those players very much so on the bubble. Fair or unfair this is his shot and with Reynolds rejoining the club after paternity leave, his opportunities might dwindle a bit. So when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, it was great to see him put a terrific swing on a ball to crush a homerun to center to make it 5-2.
Holland would come back out for the 8th, he was scheduled to start this game before the Pirates decided to go with Joe so he was ready for extended action already but with the stretch of games facing the club this made sense to save the pen. Well intention-ed or no it would not go well and the Cubs added another 3 runs, aided by a Newman error.
Despite the rough inning Holland was tasked with finishing the game, again, he wasn’t perfect, but if the Pirates just play passable defense behind him he probably did enough to keep it close.
Bucs lose and this one just never felt like it was going to go the other direction despite being close until the 7th.
News & Notes:
- Derek Holland wore special shoes honoring Mr. Rogers and came out to Won’t You Be My Neighbor. It was a nice moment, but things like that serve to remind me how sad I am that I can’t be sitting at the game more than the game itself. Still, nice moment despite my selfish feeling.
- It was announced today that on September 9th the Pirates will all be wearing #21 in honor of The Great One, Roberto Clemente. I’m a smidge too young to have watched him play, but I’ve never heard a bad word about him and I watch his highlights with the amazement my kids had in their eyes watching Lemieux Highlights. I’m glad this is happening and apparently it was Derek Shelton’s idea, so Kudos.
- Anthony Alford hit his first Pirates Homerun tonight to deep center field off his old teammate Ryan Tepera.
- Ke’Bryan Hayes struggled tonight to pick up Kyle Hendricks and struck out 3 times against the veteran junk baller.
- Kevin Newman continues to struggle in the field, he’s hardly alone but he had a ball go right between his legs allowing two runs to score in the 8th. Not been a good week with the glove for Newman.
- Gregory Polanco had a nice night going 2 for 4 with a double and single. Normally I wouldn’t note this really but both hits were encouraging as he hit them off the outside corner of the zone. A pitch he’s missed all year. Good to see.
- Colin Moran hit his 7th homerun on the year and in a normal year he is on pace for over 30. Not bad and it makes me hope that MLB decides what they’re doing about the DH next season quickly.