First of all, good ballgame.
You get to the point when covering a season like this where you almost look at that as a win, not for the team of course, but personally. It’s hard to find anything useful to write about in a double digit loss, but in a 4-3 close game with chances throughout there tend to be more things worth noting.
Tonight the important takeaway is Cody Ponce. He wasn’t as impressive as Miguel Yajure has been, but much like early days Wil Crowe he shows you what there is to like. He and Crowe are actually very similar pitchers, good stuff, not great stuff, good breaking stuff so long as it’s placed, fastball that can get swing and miss with placement. Ponce will find his way back to AAA I’m quite sure and rightfully so, but he’s not someone you should skip over to race for whoever is in AA. Cody Ponce will have a role on this club, even if it winds up being a long man, Shelton really likes having more than a few of those.
This wasn’t the outcome he wanted of course but the Pirates depth of quality young starters is in a really healthy place this early in a rebuild.
The bats came to play from the jump as Adam Frazier jumped on the first offering from Jake Arrieta for a single and Ben Gamel followed up with a double to right.
Bryan Reynolds would strikeout, his first encounter with an umpire crew he would be at odds with all night. If Bryan just does what he typically does tonight the Bucs win this one, and pretty handily. That’s not an indictment of Bryan, he’d say the same I’m sure. Jacob Stallings struggled just as much after coming through in the first.
Runners in scoring position has been a problem all season for the Pirates.
And it would rear it’s ugly head one last time in the ninth. Cole Tucker led off with a double, reached third on a deep fly ball with one out. Ildemaro Vargas pinch hit and struck out, and Adam Frazier grounded out to end the game.
Turkey was on the table in the 9th, all they had to do was make contact and the speedy Tucker had a good shot to score.
Pirates drop the series opener 4-3, back at it tomorrow with
News & Notes
- Sam Howard faced 3 batters in his outing tonight. He walked a guy and gave up a popup that fell in for a single. In the middle of his outing the dugout saw something they didn’t like and sprinted to the mound. Howard dismissed them quickly and faced his last batter before being pulled in favor of Clay Holmes. This might be nothing, but then again it might be.
- Bryan Reynolds has been so good this season, so this certainly shouldn’t be considered more than what it is, but he struggled tonight at the plate. Going 0-4 and generally not seeing the ball well. Visibly frustrated which for him is noteworthy. Ron Culpa was the 1st base umpire tonight and he drew attention more than once for check swing calls that were at least close. Now when he called Reynolds for Strike three in the 8th inning he held up the strike sign and almost seemed to be walking toward Reynolds while holding the sign up. It was weird if innocent, and wrong if purposeful.
- Ben Gamel showed signs of life tonight. Doubling and scoring in the first and stroking a single to center for an RBI in the 2nd. He also made a really nice play to cut off a ball and hold a base hit to a single. Really nice defense by he and Reynolds tonight.
- Cole Tucker had his first hit of the season in the top of the 9th, a double to the wall off Craig Kimbrel
- Cody Ponce made his season debut and after a strong 4 innings in which he gave up one run, things got away from him in the 5th and he gave up 3 runs. That would be a decisive tally
- The Pirates rank 29th in baseball for Runners Left on base with 3.93 AVG per game. They rank last in baseball for runs per game with 3.35 runs per game average, and watching it that sounds high doesn’t it?
- Chad Kuhl threw 3.1 innings and 63 pitches tonight for Indianapolis. The Pirates could have him throw one more game or he could stay on rotation for 5 days from now and make his start for Pittsburgh. We should know soon how they want to proceed.
- The Pirates took quite some time today to announce the corresponding move to Cody Ponce getting the spot start. My friend Graves pointed out they could have been waiting until the last second to make sure Evans or Moran were going to need another day or were ready to make the announcements all together.
- Will Craig is hitting, he’s making things interesting for when some guys start coming back.
Vote on my Twitter poll on this, interesting….