Bullpen wastes strong Archer start in Pirates’ loss to Mets
On the first anniversary of Chris Archer’s first start in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, his bullpen didn’t bake him a cake.
Didn’t do him any favors at all, in fact.
Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos hit late-game home runs to turn one of Archer’s best starts in black and gold into a 7-5 victory for the New York Mets on Saturday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates have lost 17 of 21 games since the all-star break. The announced crowd on fireworks night was 37,335, the third sellout of the season.
“It doesn’t show up in box score necessarily, but I feel good with where I’m at,” Archer said. “I like this team. I like this organization. Since the all-star break, it hasn’t been pretty, but gotta remember this team is super young. … We’re a young team, and there’s a lot of promise. The way everybody’s staying positive is very impressive.”
Archer allowed one run on five hits in six innings, striking out six, but he was scheduled to lead off the bottom of the inning and had thrown 95 pitches.
Tom Prince, acting as manager with Clint Hurdle serving the final game of a two-game suspension, turned to a bullpen that was without Keone Kela, who began serving a 10-game suspension, and Richard Rodriguez, who was placed on paternity leave.
Michael Feliz got the call in the seventh and gave up a pinch-hit home run to McNeil over the stands in right to make it 3-2.
Kyle Crick came on in the eighth, and the first two batters he faced hit him hard. Robinson Cano doubled to the right-center gap, and Ramos found the right-field stands to put the Mets in front for good.
“The homer was kind of in his wheelhouse,” Archer said. “Middle-away and he drives the ball the other way just as good as anybody in the game.”
The home run ended a streak of five consecutive scoreless appearances for Crick, who has had an inconsistent season. He’s 3-6 with a 3.83 ERA.
“These guys, if they see them back-to-back nights, they’re good hitters,” Prince said. “It doesn’t work your way all the time.”
Prince turned to Chris Stratton in the ninth. With runners on second and third with one out, Cano was intentionally walked. Ramos then lofted a bases-clearing double past flailing right fielder Pablo Reyes off the Clemente Wall to make it 7-3. Ramos went 4 for 5 with six RBIs.
“We talked about it on the bench,” Prince said. “Thought it was the right move.”
The runs stung because with one out in the ninth, Bryan Reynolds singled for his fourth hit of the game and Starling Marte blasted a two-run homer to the left-field bleachers to make it 7-5. It was his 20th home run of the season, tying a career high. He went 3 for 5 and stole two bases.
Archer’s first year with the Pirates — he made his debut Aug. 3 last season — has been rocky. He has a 6-11 record with a 5.01 ERA, having given up 33 home runs in 160 innings. Only 10 of his first 30 outings were quality starts.
He fared well Saturday, holding the Mets scoreless in the final five innings he pitched, including three straight 1-2-3 innings to close out his night.
Marcus Stroman, making his Mets debut after arriving via trade from Toronto, was less effective, surrendering three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“What I possess is good enough,” Archer said. “I don’t have to throw the most (nasty) slider or the perfectly executed fastball. Whenever you’re not forcing things and you’re allowing things to happen, you’re much better off.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .