The Pirates’ suddenly punchless offense made another random replacement pitcher look like a Hall-of-Famer, but Jameson Taillon and the Pirates’ bullpen held off an anemic Marlins’ lineup in a 1-0 win.
Taillon fought through some adversity to throw six shutout innings. He had to deal with strike zone issues . . . or maybe it was the plate umpire. I have trouble reading the Brooks graphs, so you can make up your own mind:
Anyway, it took Taillon 93 pitches to get that far and he walked three while striking out two. He gave up only four singles, though, and made pitches when he had to. He stranded runners at first and third in the second, and worked out of a first and third, one out situation in the fourth, with the help of some uninspired Marlins baserunning.
For the second day in a row, though, the Pirates were helpless against a nondescript Miami starter. Trevor Richards had pitched above the AA level only twice before, and not well either time. The Pirates, though, could do absolutely nothing against him, putting together a string of fruitless at-bats that seemed straight out of the playbook of the 2017 hitless wonders. Richards got through seven innings, allowing just two hits — both by Francisco Cervelli — and one walk. It took Richards only 82 pitches to breeze through the Pirates’ lineup seven times.
Richards’ merciful departure left the game to the bullpens. Michael Feliz had a rare (for the Pirates’ pen) 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and George Kontos a more eventful, but scoreless, one in the eighth. Meanwhile, Drew Steckenrider, who’s actually very good, had an easy eighth thanks to a botched hit-and-run.
In the ninth, on came Brad Ziegler to face the middle of the Pirates’ order. With their big sluggers up to face a pitcher who’s not much good any more, the Pirates decided that actually swinging the bat wasn’t working. Starling Marte bunted for a one-out hit and went to third when Josh Bell grounded a single up the middle. Corey Dickerson then popped what appeared to be a safety squeeze high in the air. Unfortunately for the Marlins -- this is exactly the sort of thing that routinely happened to the Pirates back around 2010 or so -- Ziegler charged in aggressively while the ball soared over his head and dropped unmolested in the infield. That brought home Marte. Cervelli then got things back to normal by grounding into a double play.
Felipe Vázquez had some strike zone issues of his own in the ninth, but retired the side in order for his fifth save. So the Pirates got a win they arguably didn’t deserve, which is the sort of thing that happens when teams end up better than people expected.