Both teams had aces going in the rubber match last night between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, as JT Brubaker, the Bucs’ best hurler on the year, took on former MLB strikeout leader Yu Darvish, and they didn’t disappoint in the Padres’ 4-2 win to take the series on Wednesday night.
Both pitchers had strong outings, and though Brubaker, in particular, didn’t have his smoothest night — walking three batters in his five innings pitched — it might have been one of his most impressive, as he battled through multiple Pirates fielding errors (they committed four total, including three by the normally trusty Erik Gonzalez, and Brubaker had one himself) to hold San Diego to two runs while striking out seven.
Bucs manager Derek Shelton had this to say to the Post Gazette about Brubaker’s performance:
“We’ve seen JT throw the ball really well. He did not have his best stuff. He did not have the slider that he’s had. He struggled with execution of it. But to come back and do what he did, because of the miscues, I thought he threw the ball really well again.”
But ultimately, Brubaker battled Darvish to a standstill, as the Padres ace also gave up two runs in five and two-thirds, striking out eight and walking one.
But it was Pittsburgh’s vaunted bullpen that gave up the lead, though it was Gonzalez’s final error that was the catalyst, as he flubbed what should have been a standard play, allowing Victor Caratini on base. Duane Underwood then gave up a double to Trent Grisham before Jake Cronenworth (who’s had a good series for San Diego) singled, scoring both Caratini and Grisham, and that was that.
The Bucs got just one more hit the rest of the way, and that gave Underewood the loss, his first of the season, with the win going to Craig Stammen, who pitched just one-third of an inning. Mark Melancon pitched the final frame for San Diego to snag his league-leading 11th save of the year.
The Bucs had another nice night from Bryan Reynolds, who hit his third homerun of the season, a solo shot in the sixth off of Darvish, while Colin Moran went 2-for-4 for the second night in a row to raise his average to .292 on the year.
Ka’ai Tom had Pittsburgh’s other RBI on a sacrifice fly that scored Gonzalez later on in the sixth, and that chased Darvish from the game, but Pittsburgh continues to struggle scoring runs overall, and I don’t see how that changes any time soon.
Coming into the season, many of us worried about the pitching staff, which has been better than expected, in my opinion, both the starters and the relievers, while the bats have really struggled. Their silence has been the catalyst for Pittsburgh losing six out of their last seven games to fall to 13-17 on the year.
The Bucs now have a much-needed day off and will return to the field on Friday to kick off a three game set at Wrigley against the Chicago Cubs.