Ernesto Frieri's brutal outing turns likely loss into blowout

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A close game turned into a rout in the late innings Thursday as the Pirates lost 10-2.

Vance Worley had a reasonably good start and left after seven innings, striking out six and walking two. His only big mistake came in the sixth, when he left a slider up for a two-run homer by David Peralta.

Ernesto Frieri came on in a 3-2 game in the ninth, and that's when things got nasty. The first three batters he faced got line-drive hits, all on fastballs, which he threw over and over. It's easy to say that Frieri's fastball is fast but straight, and he shouldn't rely on it so much. Last year, though, he struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings, relying very heavily on the fastball, which was a huge plus pitch. He doesn't throw any less hard this year, and he's throwing strikes. There do appear to be command issues -- one of his fastballs today was waist-high and right down the middle. But he shouldn't be getting hit this hard.

Anyway, the next batter, Didi Gregorius, didn't hit the ball hard, and it probably should have been caught, but it fell it shallow center, and that's what turned a bad inning into a terrible one. Then, Josh Harrison's decision to tag the lead runner rather than going for a double play on Gerardo Parra's groundout probably prolonged the inning further. Ender Inciarte singled to load the bases. And then Jeanmar Gomez came in and allowed everyone on base to score.

The focus here will surely, and should, be on Frieri, but it's just one bad game, and I think this is a mystery worth continuing to try to solve. The stuff and the strikeouts are there. This was an extremely disappointing outing, however, and if this outing is any indication of what batters are going to do to Frieri's fastball, he won't be of much use.

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