Jordan Lyles returns, Brewers hand Pirates yet another defeat
Over the past few seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates have seen a parade of pitchers find their form shortly after leaving the black and gold behind. From Charlie Morton to Tyler Glasnow, it’s happened more than once.
It’s probably not safe to add Jordan Lyles to that list just yet, but it’s not time to scratch him off, either.
Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers a week prior, Lyles returned to PNC Park and defeated his old team Monday night, pitching five mostly effective innings to send the Pirates to a 9-7 loss.
They’ve dropped 19 of 23 games since the all-star break. Announced attendance was 11,208.
“Things aren’t going our way right now,” outfielder Bryan Reynolds said. “It’s tough. That’s baseball. We’re going to keep fighting. We’ll get through it.”
Lyles had a wildly inconsistent season with the Pirates. He was red hot in his first eight starts, going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA. He was ice cold in his next nine starts, going 1-6 with a 9.57 ERA.
A move to Milwaukee seemed to right the ship to a large degree. He gave up one run in five innings in his first start with his new team, a 4-2 win over Oakland last Wednesday.
On Monday night, he got nothing but soft contact his first time through the lineup. He gave up a pair of walks, but the Pirates never threatened to score.
He gave up two home runs his second time through – a solo shot by Reynolds in the fourth and a two-out, pinch-hit shot by Pablo Reyes after a Keston Hiura throwing error in the fifth – but that was after the Brewers staked him to a five-run lead.
The homers were the only hits he allowed in five innings of work.
“I think it’s a breath of fresh air,” Lyles said, “and being familiar with these guys and knowing what they are capable of, if I do my part personally, I will get things turned around from where I was in the clubhouse over there.”
Pirates starter Dario Agrazal again struggled to keep the ball in the yard, which is a serious problem for a starter who doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff and generally pitches to contact.
MVP candidate Christian Yelich sent an opposite-field line drive to the stands in the first and Mike Moustakas homered to right in the third. Agrazal has given up a total of seven long balls in his last three starts.
Yelich also homered in the ninth on a towering blast that ended up in the Allegheny. He leads the majors with 39 home runs.
“It could be 90, 95 pitches and out of those 90, 95 pitches, two or three just hang and they take advantage of that,” Agrazal said.
The game’s most critical juncture came after Moustaskas’ home run in the fifth. Aided by some shaky infield defense by the Pirates, the Brewers went up 5-0 on a bases-loaded RBI groundout by Lyles and a two-run single by Trent Grisham.
On Lyles’ grounder to third, Colin Moran had a chance to turn a double play but instead inexplicably threw to first.
“I just kind of panicked,” Moran said. “I thought I wouldn’t be able to get him at home, and then stupidly, I didn’t go to second. It’s tough because you put the pitcher in a bad position.”
The Pirates kept things close with a bases-loaded double to the gap by Kevin Newman in the eighth and an RBI triple by Starling Marte in the ninth, but closer Josh Hader put down the uprising.
Reynolds was the clear bright spot for the Pirates, going 3 for 5. He made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to rob Moustakas of another home run in the second.
“I was playing pretty deep,” Reynolds said, “so I got to time it up and kind of glance at the wall, see how much room I had, and jumped.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .