Following an unheard of second scheduled off day of the week, the Pittsburgh Pirates began what should be 17 straight days of baseball, with 19 games to go in the season. For tonight’s contest the 14-27 Pirates traveled to Kansas City to begin a three game weekend series against the 17-28 Royals in what many have dubbed a battle for the supposed first pick in next year’s MLB June Amateur Draft. It goes without saying that both teams are in the midst of their own builds/rebuilds or whatever you want to call it, so it is really no surprise to see them close together near the bottom of the MLB standing, even in a year as strange as 2020.
For the Pirates, the lone lefty remaining in the starting rotation, Steven Brault was set to take the mound for his 8th start of the season in 9 games; his only relief appearance being the disastrous outing against the Detroit Tigers on August 7th, where he gave up 4 earned runs on three hits and three walks without recording an out. As a starter, Brault has posted a 2.78 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, with 20 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. However as a starter he has only lasted five full innings once and is averaging approximately 3.2 innings per start. Opposing him for the Royals was their #7 Prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Kris Bubic, who would be making only his 8th Career Start after not pitching above High A ball last year. In his 7 starts, Bubic, has yet to record his first big league win, while having a 4.48 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. At times he has looked like a rookie and other times he has blown through even the most challenging lineups. In his last two starts, both against the White Sox, he combined for 12.1 innings and struck out 12 Chicago batters, so it is clear the potential is there to succeed and the Royals seem to agree by letting him jump over the last two Minor League levels in the extended off-season.
After a nice barehand play by Ke’Bryan Hayes to begin the game, Brault promptly gave up a solo home run and the Pirates were quickly down 1-0. From the start it was apparent that Brault did not have his best stuff going as he struggled with deep counts and walks, but for the first two innings he was able to escape pretty much unscathed. In the bottom of the third he couldn’t work his way out of trouble and even created some of his own when three singles, a walk and a wild pitch brought in two more runs for the Royals. Ultimately it could have been a lot worse if Brault wasn’t able to retire the last two batters faced. In the end it wasn’t a great outing for Brault as gave up 3 runs on 5 hits, with 4 strike outs and 3 walks on 97 pitches.
Bubic on the other hand made quick work of the Pirates through the first 3 innings as he spread out walks and hits in between five strikeouts. In the top of 4th he allowed the Pirates to get on the board as Jacob Stallings doubled to bring in Colin Moran, who had singled earlier. However he stopped them from adding on, as he left runners stranded on second and third with no outs. Bubic would last one more inning before being lifted with a final line of 1 run on 6 hits, 6 strike outs and 2 walks on 92 pitches.
Over the next two and a half innings everything stayed pretty quiet as both bullpens put up one zero after another on the scoreboard. Chris Stratton then gave up a leadoff walk to Adalberto Mondesi in the bottom of the 7th and he took full advantage of it as he swiped the next bases before being singled in for the Royals 4th run of the game. But once again the Pirates came right back in the top of the next inning as a Josh Bell two run homer brought them back within one.
Unfortunately this wouldn’t be enough as the Pirates went down in order in the 9th, to end what would have been their third comeback win in 4 games by a score of 4-3.
The Pirates will take on the Royals again tomorrow at 7:05 EST. Trevor Williams (1-6, 5.80 ERA) is scheduled to be on the bump for Pittsburgh as he faced off against Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 1.42 ERA) in his first Major League start.
News and Notes:
- Since recording 2 hits in his first game back from paternity leave, he only has two hits combined in the next 7 games and 23 at bats, including an 0 for 3 night this evenings contest.
- Adam Frazier’s hitting streak ends at 12 games.
- Geoff Hartlieb pitches a scoreless 8th inning to keep the Pirates in the game. He has not allowed a run in his last 6 appearances.
- Josh Bell has an impressive 3 for 4 night, including the 8th inning 2 run homer, his 5th of the season.
- Royals Rookie Kris Bubic was earns the first victory of his MLB career.