The Pirates managed to string together five scoreless innings against David Phelps, a 27-year-old minor leaguer who's starting for the Yankees due to injuries. Baseball America characterizes Phelps as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter with middling stuff, and he struggled to throw strikes against the Pirates. He fell behind repeatedly and took 100 pitches to get through five innings. Phelps walked three and hit one in the first three innings, but the Pirates went hitless and scoreless. They then failed to score in the next two innings despite getting five hits. They had two baserunners thrown out in the 4th. In the 5th they had the heart of their order -- Walker, McCutchen and Alvarez -- come up with first and second and no out, yet they failed even to get a runner to third. For the game the Pirates went 1-for-9 with RISP.
Starling Marte led off the 6th with a HR off Dellin Bettances, his third of the year, but the Pirates otherwise were helpless against the Yankees' bullpen. Even mop-up reliever Matt Daley breezed through a 1-2-3 9th. Marte finished a triple shy of the cycle and Tony Sanchez had two hits. Walker, McCutchen and Alvarez combined to go 0-for-10 with nine LOB.
Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez continued his rather peculiar season. Volquez' weakness was always control, but this year he's generally thrown strikes; he's walked just 2.4 per nine innings. Today was no exception, as he walked none and threw 55 of 81 pitches for strikes. He also allowed only six hits in six and a third innings, but four of them left the park, accounting for five runs. Vin Mazzaro allowed a fifth HR with a man on in the 8th to conclude the thrashing. The Pirates have now allowed HRs at a rate of 1.10 per game, after allowing just 0.62 per game last year.
The Pirates are now seven games under .500, just one less than their season-worst record. They'll have double the chances to strand runners tomorrow.