As a frequently recurring catchphrase goes, it was going well—until it wasn’t.
After three straight victories, the Pirates dropped the final game of the series against the Marlins 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. A costly error (on the Bucs’ part) plus a solid pitching performance (not on the Bucs’ part) were key factors in the brooms being put away.
The game started on a positive note for the Pirates in the bottom of the first inning, with Adam Frazier reaching on a Jesus Aguilar error and Ke’Bryan Hayes singling off Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara. Bryan Reynolds advanced Frazier even though he hit into a double play, and Colin Moran, in his first at-bat since his injury in early May, doubled Frazier home for a 1-0 Bucs lead.
Aguilar, obviously wanting to prove Bucs announcer Greg Brown’s opinion that the Marlins value his bat more than his glove correct, slammed a Chad Kuhl slider over the left field fence to tie things up in the top of the second. That was it for offense as far as both teams went for a few innings, although Hayes singled again in the third and Ben Gamel popped a ground-rule double in the fifth.
In the top of the sixth inning, Kuhl nailed Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the foot with a pitch. Starling Marte, who has been greeted by cheers and general goodwill by Pirates fans during this series, reminded everyone that he now plays for the Marlins by singling and advancing Chisholm. The other ex-Buc Corey Dickerson got on base via fielder’s choice, but what should have been a double play turned into a go-ahead run when Erik Gonzalez bobbled the throw from Frazier and allowed Chisholm to score. Aguilar reared his head again by sacrificing to get Marte home, which rendered the final score.
Chad Kuhl wasn’t horrible as much as unlucky—he pitched six fairly solid innings, his longest outing of the season. Alcantara, despite getting six hits to Kuhl’s five, kept his pitch count super-low (103 in eight innings), which helped his own cause.
Yes, it was a battle of not very good teams. But here’s where I point out that the Pirates already have more victories now in fewer games than they had all last nseason. Redbeard is back, Hayes is steady, and Frazier always manages to get on base.
Can we have a little optimism?