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Pirates bullpen melts down in 6-3 loss to Marlins

Justin K. Aller

Postgame notes and quotes:

Almost exactly according to script ... almost

For the first seven innings, tonight's game went precisely according to the script that conventional wisdom says the Pirates will have to follow in Andrew McCutchen's absence:

-P- Good starting pitching: Check. Charlie Morton pitched well, going seven innings and only allowing one run.

-P- Solid defense: Check, for the most part. With the exception of a poor sequence in the fourth inning that contributed to a run scoring, the Pirates did a nice job behind Morton. (Josh Harrison fumbled a ball hit into the corner and Chris Stewart dropped the resulting throw to the plate that arrived well before Garrett Jones.)

-P- Scratch out runs: Check. In the bottom of the seventh, the Bucs effectively utilized small-ball tactics to generate a run and break a 1-1 tie.

The final and missing piece tonight was one that has let the Pirates down more than a few times this season.

-P- Shutdown innings from the bullpen: Fail. The Pirates went through four relievers and allowed five runs in the eighth.

"We just didn't meet the demands of the game in the eighth inning," Clint Hurdle said. "There were walks involved. We made an error. We just didn't get the things done that we needed to get done with a one-run lead."

"We've all been playing this game for a long time and this isn't the first time we've struggled," Jared Hughes said. "So it'll be one of those things where tomorrow we'll come here ready to win."

Hughes, Jeanmar Gomez and Justin Wilson were each credited with meltdowns, increasing the team's total to 51. In 2013, the Bucs bullpen only had 53 meltdowns. (More on meltdown statistic here.)

Tony Watson was unavailable

On Twitter a lot of people were wondering why Hurdle went with Wilson instead of Tony Watson in the eighth.

"He was just not going to pitch tonight," Hurdle said. "That was predetermined before the game. He just wasn't in a position to pitch."

Watson appeared the last three games of the Arizona series, and pitched four of the past six days.

Walker removed from game

After he scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh, Neil Walker was removed from the game in the top of the eighth.

"He just came to us that his back tightened up," Hurdle said.

Morton's fine start

After two challenging starts in a row, Morton put together a very fine start. He induced some weak contact and got a lot of ground balls (73.7 GB% according to Fangraphs).

"He navigated through a lot of hitter's counts throughout the seven innings," Hurdle said. "I mean, that's a good job. Six hits through seven innings, even though he had four walks, he did a fine job."

"I think the sinker was pretty good," Morton said. "I got a lot ground balls and minimized damage. I had some really good plays behind me and Chris [Stewart] called a really good game."