Brewers outslug Pirates, 12-8
MILWAUKEE — The Pirates entered the last day of April somewhere they have rarely been in the last 20 years — in first place — and with 15 wins, an opening-month benchmark they haven't reached since 1992.
But without improved starting pitching, it brings into question whether such a compelling start can be sustained, and whether there will be more losses like Tuesday's 12-8 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, where the Pirates' middle relievers faltered.
As a consequence of a Pirates starter again failing to pitch deep into a game — James McDonald allowed seven runs and 13 baserunners in five innings — the Pirates again dipped into their middle relief pitching, and this time it caught up to them, allowing five runs in the final four innings.
The Pirates entered the night leading the National League in relief innings and ranked last in innings pitched by starting pitchers.
“We have red-lined our bullpen,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We've got to improve the length from the starters. “I didn't want to use (Tony) Watson, (Mark) Melancon or (Jason) Grilli unless we had a lead the last two nights, just to keep their numbers smart going into an off day.”
Hurdle eventually went to Watson in the eighth, when he gave up a three-run homer to Rickie Weeks to give the Brewers a 12-8 lead, but first Hurdle went to Vin Mazzaro in the sixth. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura hit the first pitch he saw from Mazzaro over the wall in right to tie the score at 8.
Two batters later, Jonathan Lucroy lined a single off Mazzaro's lower leg that knocked him from the game.
Mazzaro was replaced by Bryan Morris, who was called up Tuesday to take Jonathan Sanchez's place on the roster.
Yuniesky Betancourt welcomed Morris by lining a 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall to begin the seventh to give the Brewers a 9-8 lead.
“There was a bushel full of three-ball counts,” Hurdle said of McDonald's start “His curveball wasn't in play. … On back to back nights on the mound, we haven't had intent and conviction with our pitches”
While McDonald's four-seam fastball sat between 92-93 mph in the first inning, it was 90-91 the rest of the outing, again below his career average of 92 mph.
McDonald said he feels “fine” physically, despite his decline in velocity.
“They were spitting some pretty good pitches,” McDonald said. “They put together some pretty good at bats.”
McDonald walked back-to-back batters to begin the second, and Martin Maldonado scored both runners with a two-run double. McDonald allowed an RBI double to Carlos Gomez in the third and a two-run single to Weeks in a three-run fourth.
The Pirates got a break to begin the sixth. Jose Tabata appeared to have grounded into an inning-ending double play, but he was ruled safe at first. Starling Marte followed with a three-run homer to give the Pirates an 8-7 lead.
Before Marte's shot, Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning off Marco Estrada to cut the Brewers' lead to 7-5. McCutchen ripped an Estrada 90 mph fastball deep to right center for his third homer of the season. McCutchen went 4 for 5, raising his average to .247.
“My confidence is always through the roof regardless of the outcome,” McCutchen said. “I don't think about the results, I think about the process.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pine-Richland’s DiNucci commits to Pitt
- Kittanning’s Bowers changes commitment from Pitt to Penn State
- State court blocks release of Penn State emails between Freeh investigators and Attorney General
- Funeral for Joey Fabus, honorary Bethel Park police officer, draws crowd
- Guns found at Propel Braddock Hills
- Rossi: Crosby’s debt to NHL paid in full
- City authority approves deal to finance Penguins development
- New York City hunkers down as Nor’easter threatens blizzard conditions
- Senate GOP, fired open records director file lawsuit against Wolf
- Pittsburgh police say officers in video did not use excessive force
- Penguins recall 4 players