On a day when they lost their ostensible ace, the Pirates’ game played out like a parody of their season so far. All the usual things were going wrong, leading inevitably to yet another excruciating loss.
Yesterday, their fans sat through a rain delay only to witness a 14-1 embarrassment. Today, the Pirates started off as if they were letting the fans off the hook, encouraging them to give it up by falling behind 3-0 in the first. Trevor Williams started off well enough, getting the two first batters, but five straight hits followed. Oakland had help from some less than optimal play in right by Gregory Polanco, who found a creative way to let Kendrys Morales (23.2 ft/sec sprint speed, which makes Colin Moran look like a blur . . . really) hit a triple. That left the A’s with three runs.
The team’s offense, aka Josh Bell, stayed on script, getting what looked like the Pirates’ token run for the day when he led off the second with his seventh home run. In the third, Bell came up with a man on after Polanco narrowly missed tying the game with a blast that was caught at the wall in center (by ex-Pirate prospect Robbie Grossman, naturally). Bell seems to be taking the concept of launch angle very seriously (especially the launch part), as he tied the game, 3-3, with a 451-foot blast that hit the batter’s eye in center. Bryan Reynolds followed with a single, which didn’t produce any scoring but gave Reynolds a hit in his first 11 major league games. That tied Polanco’s post-1900 team record. Reynolds went 2-3 with a walk on the day and is batting .417.
Williams settled down quickly after the first, throwing scoreless ball until the fifth. Then, the A’s took a 4-3 lead on a Matt Chapman triple and Khris Davis single. Williams got through one more inning, giving up eight hits and a walk, with five strikeouts, in six innings.
The Pirates had a chance in the bottom of the sixth, as they loaded the bases with one out. But that ended the way Pirate rallies always seem to end, with Jung Ho Kang, batting for Williams, fanning and Adam Frazier popping up.
The seventh continued in ultra-Pirates fashion, as Keone Kela came on to allow a leadoff double. Kela’s velocity was down and, sure enough, he left after that one batter with discomfiting discomfort. Michael Feliz, who hasn’t been around enough this year to know how these things are supposed to work, got out of the inning by fanning the very dangerous Chapman and Davis with runners at the corners.
In the bottom of the seventh, something new and different happened. After a one-out double by Polanco, the A’s sensibly wanted no part of Bell and put him on. With two outs, the much-maligned Kevin Newman, in the game because the Pirates had batted for Cole Tucker, tripled to put the Pirates up, 5-4. Francisco Cervelli then singled in Newman for just his fifth RBI (Newman has four in one-seventh as many at-bats), making it 6-4. Joe Musgrove, batting for Feliz as the Pirates are now playing with Clint Hurdle’s preferred short bench, beat out a bunt, of all things, but Kang fanned again.
From there, oddly enough, nothing noteworthy happened. Kyle Crick had an uneventful eighth and Felipe Vásquez, after a two-out ninth-inning single, got a strikeout to end it.
The Pirates go for the series win tomorrow afternoon with Jordan Lyles on the mound.