The Pirates scraped together only six hits, left eight runners on base, and every ball the Rockies hit seemed to find a hole as Pittsburgh dropped the final game of the three game set 5-1 at PNC Park.
Chad Kuhl came out throwing hard, but unlike his last start, throwing strikes for the Pirates. With one out in the second, Rockies’ left fielder Ian Desmond dropped a fly ball into the first row of the left field seats. Hit at 94.5 mph, Baseball Savant rated the ball as having only a 28% chance of being a hit. A video review confirmed the homer, giving the Rockies a 1-0 lead that lasted into the fifth as the Pirates failed to do much against hard throwing 21 year old rookie German Marquez.
Colorado broke open the scoring in the top of the fifth. Other than Desmond’s homer, Kuhl had cruised through the first four, throwing only 44 pitches, with 7.5% of those for strikes. He then promptly walked Desmond on four pitches to open the frame. Speedster Raimel Tapia, subbing in right field for Carlos Gonzalez, was credited with a hit when shortstop Max Moroff’s throw was late to second to get the force on Desmond. Trevor Story then reached for a slider on the outside corner and dribbled it through the hole at short to score Desmond. After getting the first out of the inning on Tony Wolters grounder to second, pitcher Marquez put down a bunt to first baseman Josh Bell. With Tapia racing in from third Bell hurried and the ball fell out of his glove for an error, making the score 3-0 Rockies. Kuhl was done after 31 pitches in just that half inning.
While Marquez was attempting to bunt, one of Kuhl’s fastballs dove in towards the right handed batter. At first it looked like he had been hit on the fingers, but the ball had hit the bat between his hands and he was only stung by the vibration.
In the bottom of that same fifth inning, Andrew McCutchen singled with one out and then Pirates’s catcher Francisco Cervelli was hit in the side on the first pitch by Marquez. Cervelli grimaced, looked at the pitcher for just a second, then turned away. Meanwhile the Rockies’ catcher Wolters jumped in and made a comment which elicited a heated reaction from Cervelli. Benches cleared but there were no punches thrown before order was restored. Meanwhile, the Pirates went out quietly.
The home team threatened again in the sixth when Adam Frazier led off with a double and went to third on a line single to left by Josh Harrison. Lefty Chris Rusin entered the game for Colorado and got Gregory Polanco to bounce into a double play on the first pitch, scoring Frazier from third.
Seventh inning - same old story. With one out Cervelli singled, Moroff was hit by a pitch and pinch-hitter David Freese walked. The new pitcher Jake McGee then got Frazier to pop out to center and Harrison to strike out swinging.
Tapia had four hits for Colorado - a soft liner to center, a pop fly double down the left field line, and two ground balls to short. Only two of the team’s eight had a hit probability of over 50%.
Despite the relatively close score, four Pirates relievers performed in basically white-flag duty. Edgar Santana and Jhan Marinez each gave up a run on bloopers and bleeders, while Daniel Hudson and Tony Watson both looked sharp.
The Pirates (30-36) have a day off on Thursday before the Chicago Cubs (32-33) come to town on Friday.