Sit down, I got some bad news, it’s gonna hurt.
Braves 13, Pirates 7.
The outcome of this game was determined in the bottom of the first inning, when after words and shoves were exchanged after Pirates’ starter Joe Musgrove clipped the Braves’ Josh Donaldson in the jersey, the umpires tossed not just Donaldson for shoving Elias Diaz out of his way but also Musgrove for dropping his hat and glove when he entered the melee.
It even got to Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle, not one to easily curse, who could be seen responding to the umpires’ explanation with “You’ve got to be ****ing kidding me!”
Unfortunately for the Pirates, with Musgrove out of the game after four batters, Hurdle had to turn to his motley crew of Triple-A relievers in the first inning.
The Pirates had drawn first blood when Starling Marte singled off Kevin Gausman in the top of the first, going to second when center fielder Ronald Acuna overran the ball, then coming home on Josh Bell’s single to left for a 1-0 lead.
Alex McRae came in for Musgrove and struck out Nick Markakis to end the first, but the inevitable came quickly enough. In the second McRae hit Austin Riley with a pitch (no riots ensued), walked Brian McCann and after a groundout moved the runners up he got the pitcher Gausman to strikeout - but he reached to load the bases when strike three skipped past the catcher Diaz. Acuna then stepped in a smashed a 1-1 pitch into the seats in left field for a grand slam and a 4-1 Braves lead. A walk and two singles added another run before the inning was over, 5-1 Braves.
The Pirates showed signs of life in the third when Kevin Newman singled, Bryan Reynolds reached on an error and Starling Marte slammed his eighth homer of the year over the right center fence, closing the gap to a single run, trailing 5-4.
Colin Moran walked, Gausman was gone, and as Hurdle said after the game “We actually got the tying run to the plate, at one point”. Such lofty goals.
Unfortunately, McRae was still pitching. Ozzie Albers took McRae deep to left-center for a solo shot, his eighth. 6-4.
But wait, there’s moar! After a walk to Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman lifted a high fly the other way, sending Bryan Reynolds back to the wall, where the ball caromed off his glove, off the top of the wall, and into the seats for a two run homer, the third tossed up by McRae in the game. 8-4.
After McRae had labored through 95 pitching in his four and a third innings, it was up to Geoff Hartlieb. Double and single in the sixth, 9-4. Another Albies homer in the seventh, 10-4.
The Pirates stormed back for three in the eighth, including another homer by Marte, his ninth, but Montana DuRapau gave them all back in the bottom of the inning, capped by a two-run homer by Nick Markakis.
The Pirates’ three relievers have major league ERAs this season of 8.76, 9.64 and 9.31. Good thing the team is running with a ten-man bullpen and three-man rotation after Jordan Lyles became the latest body to land on the injured list.
As Musgrove only threw 18 pitches before his ejection, he’ll come back to start the series finale on Thursday afternoon.
Now with a record of 30-35, Pittsburgh is only a half game ahead of Cincinnati for last place in the division.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. Eastern in Atlanta, with Chris Archer (3-5, 5.20) set to face Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 5.89). Maybe they have a chance.