Eighth-inning troubles are hurting Pirates
The ninth often is baseball's most pressure-packed inning. Yet, for the Pirates, the eighth has been the deadliest inning.
The Pirates have been outscored, 62-37 — a dramatic margin — in eighth innings this season. They are 37-6 when they lead after seven.
"It's a tough inning," manager John Russell said Thursday. "If you have guys coming in with good stuff who can really locate the ball, it's going to make those late innings easier."
By the third or fourth time through the lineup, batters have acclimated their swings. Any misstep by a relief pitcher or the fielders can spark a rally.
"If you get those clean innings late in the game, it really shuts down the opposing team," Russell said. "They don't get the momentum; they don't get the right people to the plate.
"But if you start giving them opportunities, like we did last night ... usually bad things are going to happen."
Wednesday, the Pirates led the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2-1, going into the eighth. Before the inning was over, the Pirates had used three relievers and the Diamondbacks had scored three runs.
Joel Hanrahan, a one-time closer for Washington, created the mess with a walk and a throwing error.
"They always say the walks are gonna kill you," Hanrahan said.
Evan Meek blew his first save by yielding a pair of run-scoring singles. The rookie right-hander has allowed six of 10 inherited runners to score.
Russell does not have the luxury of a veteran bullpen. Hanrahan and Steven Jackson are newcomers, Jesse Chavez is a rookie, Jeff Karstens is a converted starter and Donnie Veal is a Rule 5 newbie.
"It's where we're at right now," Russell said with a shrug. "We've got a young bullpen, and the stress of those innings is not always conducive to a young pitcher. I think our guys have handled it pretty well and will continue to get better."
A look at the inning-by-inning run totals for the Pirates and their opponents this season:
Inning: Pirates — Opposition
1st: 57 — 53
2nd: 48 — 46
3rd: 50 — 54
4th: 55 — 63
5th: 38 — 54
6th: 54 — 60
7th: 57 — 40
8th: 37 — 62
9th: 40 — 39
Extra: 4 — 4
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- State Supreme Court: Highmark Medicare Advantage members to retain in-network access to UPMC
- Baseball America names Pirates as organization of the year
- Cheyney University’s accreditation in jeopardy because of financial woes
- Lane restrictions announced for portion of Route 28
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Pedestrian struck on East Crawford Avenue in Connellsville
- Penguins centermen enjoying better faceoff success rate this season
- Regoli won’t seek recount in Westmoreland County judge election