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Gopher balls, inept offense doom Pirates to 4-2 loss

MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Glasnow had gopher ball problems and the Pirates’ offense continued its year-long clinic in How Not to Score Runs in a 4-2 loss to the Mets.

Glasnow’s struggles picked up from his last start. He walked the first hitter he faced and then, with two out, threw a fastball right down the middle to Neil Walker, who sent it where fastballs down the middle tend to get sent.

The Pirates got those two runs back, but missed chances for more. Josh Bell drilled his 11th HR to right center in the second and the Bucs got two on with two out, but that brought up Glasnow, who got rung up. In the third, singles by Adam Frazier and Josh Harrison put runners on the corners with nobody out, but the Pirates managed only one run. In the fourth they had runners on the corners again, this time with one out, but Glasnow got called out on strikes again and Frazier grounded out.

The Mets, by contrast, found more efficient ways to generate offense: they blasted gopher balls off Glasnow. Jay Bruce went deep in the third and Wilmer Flores in the fourth. Glasnow ended up going five innings, allowing five hits and three walks, while striking out five. His control was poor, as he threw only 49 of 89 pitches for strikes.

Johnny Barbato and Wade LeBlanc held the score at 4-2, but the Pirates failed to come through in repeated chances to score. They had yet another first-and-third chance with one out in the sixth, but Elias Diaz, who’d had hits his previous two times up, fanned and Jose Osuna, batting for Glasnow, flied out. They got still another chance when they put two on with two out in the seventh, but Bell chased three straight low and in curves and struck out. In the eighth, the Pirates wasted a one-out double by Jordy Mercer, his second double of the game. Josh Harrison led off the ninth with a single, but the next three hitters went down quickly. For the game, the Pirates went 1-for-12 and stranded a dozen runners. The 3-5 hitters — Gregory Polanco, David Freese and Bell — combined to go 2-for-15 with four strikeouts, and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

Tomorrow the Pirates will try to avoid their third straight series loss with Trevor Williams on the mound.