It was a game as ugly as the storm that delayed it in the seventh inning.
Instead of sweeping the Braves and continuing their win streak, the Pirates—more to the point, their bullpen—fell to Atlanta 14-3 this afternoon at PNC Park.
From the start, as I noted on BD’s Twitter feed, this game wasn’t destined to be a pitcher’s duel. Wil Crowe dealt a double to Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley singled him home to give the Braves a 1-0 in the top of the first. The Bucs punched right back, with Adam Frazier singling and Ke’Bryan Hayes doubling. Frazier got nailed at home while Bryan Reynolds reached on a fielder’s choice, but then this appeared:
Jacob Stallings, aka the Cheetah, smacked a three-run homer to right center, and just like that, the Bucs were up 3-1. John Nogowski continued to have a hot bat and singled and Wilmer Difo doubled, but with two outs, Braves starter Drew Smyly wisely walked Jared Oliva to get to Crowe, who lined out to Riley. But hey, the Bucs were just picking up where they left off on Tuesday night, fans thought.
Hope didn’t falter even when Ronald Acuna Jr. took Crowe deep in the third because of the whole picking-up-where-they-left-off vibe. Both teams took turns getting doubles here and singles there—there were 32 hits in this game, lest you think that the Braves had stellar pitching (they did not). Crowe left in the fifth inning after Freddie Freeman singled and Riley walked, and obviously wasn’t happy about it, but it wasn’t until the sixth inning, that the Bucs’ stumbles became full-on staggers. Clay Holmes closed out the fifth, but Kyle Crick came on to start the sixth. He proceeded to walk Dansby Swanson and Guillermo Heredia, and after a sac fly by Jonathan Lucroy that advanced both runners, Abraham Altamonte pinch-hit for Smyly with a two-run single to gain the Braves their first lead of the day—a lead they kept.
After that, it looked like batting practice for the Braves. When the weather halt was called in the seventh, they were ahead 7-3. When the game was resumed roughly an hour later, they continued on their merry way. It got so bad that it was decided that Nogowski needed to cement his legend and pitch the ninth. He’d gone 4-5 at the plate, and while he did give up a single to Swanson he got two groundouts, including the inning-ending double play. There’s a reason BD’s Twitter is now named the Big Nogowski Fan Account.
Yay for bright spots.