Trevor Williams ran out of studliness, at least for a day, and the Pirates’ hitters exuded all manner of dudliness in a 7-2 loss to Toronto, dropping the Pirates back below .500.
Williams was his own worst enemy, undermining himself repeatedly with control problems. A leadoff walk in the first to Jose Bautista resulted in a run. In the second, Williams hit the leadoff hitter, then with two outs allowed a single and two more walks (one of them to Bautista, who’s batting leadoff for a reason) to force in a run.
Williams seemingly settled down for two innings, but in the fifth the wildness returned. He hit Bautista to start the inning, then allowed a bloop single to right on which Gregory Polanco managed to suffer yet another hamstring injury because, you know, he had to move his legs to run after the ball. (It’s a good thing the Pirates acquired an outf—-, oh . . . wait . . . .) Another walk loaded the bases for Kendry Morales, who grounded slowly to short. The Pirates got a force out, but Adam Frazier threw wildly trying to double up the lumbering Morales, letting a second run score and making it 4-1.
Williams deserves some credit for laboring through six innings. He even fanned seven. He gave up only four hits — two of them to Rob Refsnyder of all people, who got a third hit later — but he couldn’t overcome four walks and two hit batters.
Toronto’s Chris Rowley, making his first major league appearance, didn’t have to worry about wildness. He just had to be right-handed and lob marginal fastballs off the plate while the Pirates flailed at them. And that’s exactly what they did for five and a third innings, making Rowley look like Greg Maddux in his prime, only without the need to throw strikes. The only thing resembling a rally through five innings came in the second, when Josh Bell led off with a triple. David Freese and Polanco failed to get him in, but Jordy Mercer singled up the middle to plate the run.
The Pirates didn’t get another runner past first until the sixth, when a one-out single and walk finished Rowley. Reliever Dominic Leone, who actually does have a fastball, came on to blow away Freese and get Sean Rodriguez, Polanco’s replacement, on a nubber in front of the plate.
In the seventh, the Pirates went with Joaquin Benoit, whom they acquired at the trade deadline on purpose. He promptly removed any lingering doubts, giving up three straight one-out hits, which combined with a throwing error on Harrison led to three runs. Benoit has now been scored upon in three of his four outings with the Pirates, leading to the question, How is it that Benoit brought a player, any player, in trade while George Kontos was available for nothing?
Mercer hit his 11th HR in the ninth, but that was all the Pirates had left. Mercer and Bell each had two hits.
The Pirates go for a series win tomorrow against J.A. Happ, who’s probably practicing throws right-handed.
UPDATE: Just for fun, see if you can guess the wording of the Pirates’ statement on Polanco before you read it. I’m convinced a bot does these.