In a year of highs and lows, these are the losses that stung the most.
Last week, I asked Bucs Dugout what the best win of the season was. The winner, unsurprisingly, was Josh Bell’s walk-off in the rain against the Brewers. Second place went to the Joe Musgrove takeout slide game, and the opening day extra-inning win took the bronze.
But for every ying, there is a yang. You can’t have a “best wins” list without a “worst losses” entry, too. Actually, you probably could, but I won’t allow it.
So now, I present to you (with perpetual lateness) the nominees for the worst Pirates loss of the year.
May 1: Nationals 12, Pirates 4- Nats Get Rolling
The Pirates may have had a strong April, but they were knocked back to earth on May 1. Max Scherzer was deadly as usual while Chad Kuhl surrendered four home runs. The four game Nationals sweep was quite possibly the worst series of the year for the Bucs, and this game was the lowlight of that set.
May 5: Brewers 5, Pirates 3- Kontos Falters
That Josh Hader guy on Milwaukee is a pretty good pitcher, so there was reason for renewed optimism when Starling Marte crushed a game-tying home run off him in the eighth inning.
But George Kontos reared his head in the home half of the eighth, allowing a two out, game-deciding double to Ryan Braun. Kontos remained in the set-up role for another week before eventually being demoted and released.
May 31: Cardinals 10, Pirates 8- Felipe Blows Comeback Bid
Full disclosure: I think this is my vote for worst loss.
After falling behind early, the Pirates roared back in St. Louis to take an 8-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Felipe Vazquez with a three run lead is about as automatic as it gets, but the lefty wasn’t right that night, allowing five runs without recording an out. This was part of an uncharacteristically terrible 11 day stretch for Vazquez where he blew four saves. This just so happened to be the worst one.
June 11: Diamondbacks 9, Pirates 5- HBP Costs Bucs
The Bucs took a 5-0 lead into the seventh, but things went downhill quickly when Joe Musgrove started the inning by intentionally plunking Chris Owings in retaliation of Josh Harrison being hit earlier in the frame. That hit batter and a David Freese error set the stage for a game-tying three run homer by Jake Lamb. Arizona scored four more times in the eighth and the Pirates threw away a potential win in what would be a very difficult June.
July 2: Dodgers 17, Pirates 1- Yeesh
The final score says it all.
July 7: Phillies 3, Pirates 2- Taillon Gets Pulled Too Early
The Pirates allowed 17 runs for the second time in a four game span the day before, but Jameson Taillon got the pitching back on track this game, going into the seventh inning up 2-0. Taillon didn’t finish the seventh though, getting pulled with two outs in the inning despite only throwing 77 pitches. The aggressive hook backfired when Edgar Santana allowed an inherited runner to come home for the deciding tally.
Aug. 10: Giants 13, Pirates 10- Biometrics-Gate
After winning 11 in a row in July and buying at the deadline, the Pirates went into San Francisco hoping to cement themselves as serious wild card contenders. While they scored 10 runs to win the first game of the series, Clint Hurdle opted to push his starters back a day to give them extra rest after pitching in Colorado the series prior.
Clay Holmes was clobbered in the spot start, getting eight outs and allowing seven runs. The Pirates were spinning wheels through the previous couple of series, but this loss is considered to be the beginning of the end.
Aug. 16-17: Deja Vu All Over Again
The Pirates desperately needed to win their mid-August home series against the Cubs to keep their playoff hopes alive. While the pitching was phenomenal in both games, the offense was non-existent.
In the first game, the Pirates only got one runner into scoring position all night. In the second, they hit into seven double-plays. Which is worse: no offense or constant missed opportunities?
Aug. 24: Brewers 7, Pirates 6- Holmes Strikes Again
Like so many other games on this list, this was a comeback bid that fell just short. Marte came through with a game-tying hit with two outs in the ninth, and Francisco Cervelli gave the Bucs the lead in the top of the 15th.
But the bullpen was gassed by that point, and Hurdle had to turn to Holmes in the home half of the 15th. A two out walk to relief pitcher Jordan Lyles turned out to be the spark the Brewers needed, and Erik Kratz and Orlando Arcia won it for Milwaukee.
While the Pirates’ season wasn’t over yet, their postseason aspirations effectively died that night.
What was the worst Pirates loss of 2018?
This poll is closed
Nats Get Rolling
Felipe Blows Comeback Bid
HBP Costs Bucs
17-1 to Dodgers
Taillon Gets Pulled Too Early
Aug. 16: No offense
Aug. 17: 7 Double-Plays
Holmes Strikes Again