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7th inning proves costly as Bucs drop 5th straight

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh was in danger of winning before a turbulent 7th inning shifted the game towards one the team, front office, and fans are more familiar with as of late. That inning led to a 3-2 defeat in game two of the series while securing Pittsburgh’s fifth consecutive loss.

Offensively, Starling Marte led the way for the Pirates. Going three for four, Marte was involved in both runs Pittsburgh managed to push across. In the first inning, Marte lined a single off of Jesmuel Valentin’s glove, advanced to second on a while pitch, and came around to score on a ground ball single by Moran.

Marte stuck again when he led off the bottom of the 3rd inning with a solo home run to left, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead. That was all she wrote for Pittsburgh’s scoring on the day.

Jameson Taillon looked sharp through his first six innings of work while not allowing a run and striking out six. Even the runs he allowed in the 7th inning came with some questions:

  1. Would the Pirates have been able to turn the double play if Josh Bell had any spatial awareness whatsoever and had not flopped on the grass while trying to reach a ball he did not need to reach?
  2. If Gregory Polanco did not bobble Nick Williams’ triple off the wall, would the throw have been in time to get him at third base?
  3. If Colin Moran’s little league coach had properly taught him how to execute a snap tag, would Williams have been out at third?

Addressing the first question, given placement of Carlos Santana’s ground ball, turning two on that play was certainly no guarantee, but doing so would’ve ended the inning without any runs.

Regarding questions two and three, Williams is out at third base to end the inning with a Pirates’ lead if Polanco gains control of the baseball on his first attempt OR Moran executes the tag.

Hypotheticals aside, here’s how the fateful inning actually played out:

After Taillon recorded a quick out, Odubel Herrera reached on an infield single. Carlos Santana followed up by hitting a ground ball to the right side of the infield. Josh Bell flailed hopelessly while trying to crack SportsCenter’s Top10. After he failed to come up with the baseball, Harrison fielded the ball without much effort and fired to second base to record the force out of Herrera. Santana reached without a throw on the fielder’s choice as Josh Bell was still on the ground and Taillon was late getting over to first base.

Now, with two outs and Santana on first base, Nick Williams stepped in and lined a triple to left. Polanco bobbled the ball before firing it into Harrison. Harrison relayed the ball to Moran who was late getting the tag down. Phillies plated their first run of the day as Santana scored on the triple.

On the very next pitch, Scott Kingery lined a single up the middle to score the tying run and effectively end Taillon’s night.

Edgar Santana came on in relief and promptly allowed the go ahead run to score on a double by Jorge Alfaro. The inning finally ended after Alfaro was hung up between second and third while trying to stretch the base hit into a triple.

Moving on, Crick escaped the 8th inning without any runs, and by some miracle, Vazquez did the same while pitching a scoreless 9th.

Corey Dickerson set the table for a potential interesting 9th inning when he tapped into his power and absolutely hammered a double to left field to lead off the inning. However, that was not the case as Harrison and Mercer followed up with two quick strike outs before Freese lined out to center field to end the game.

Final score: Phillies 3, Pirates 2

W: Arrieta (6-6) L: Taillon (5-7) S: Arano (2)

The Pirates will try to avoid their second consecutive sweep tomorrow at 1:35pm. Taking on the challenge will be Nick Kingham.