Joe Musgrove followed a late start with an early exit that saw his ERA go up and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ perfect record against the American League go down in flames.
The Oakland A’s got four hits and eight RBIs from catcher Josh Phegley in a 14-1 victory over the Pirates following a 41-minute rain delay Friday night before 16,428 at PNC Park. The game lasted three hours, 26 minutes.
Phegley’s eight RBIs were the most against the Pirates since June 28, 1977, when St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Ken Reitz had eight in the second game of a doubleheader. Where Reitz got his on three hits — including a grand slam off starter Grant Jackson and a three-run shot off infielder Mario Mendoza — Phegley went 4 for 5 while batting eighth and had two bases-clearing doubles and a solo home run to boost his batting average from .250 to .288.
“We missed spots all night,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “When you give up 14 runs and that many hits (16), give them credit. They didn’t miss balls that we left up in the zone.”
It was a rough start to a five-game interleague homestand for the Pirates, who were 4-0 this season against AL opponents. That included two wins this week at the Texas Rangers, the first to snap an eight-game losing streak.
The A’s, however, batted around the order twice through the first four innings. They benefited from a pair of throwing errors by Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang in the second inning, followed by a Musgrove meltdown in the third.
“He’s thrown balls away more this year than we’ve seen in the past,” Hurdle said of Kang. “I don’t know. It looked like the feet were trying to get set. Either way, the throws — one was off-line and the other was just short.”
The right-hander had allowed only six earned runs in 35 innings this season — his 1.54 ERA was the second-best in the majors entering the game — and had pitched into the seventh inning in each of his first five starts. Against the A’s, Musgrove gave up five earned runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batter in 22/3 innings, leaving the game after walking Marcus Semien with the bases loaded in the third.
And that was after the Pirates spotted him a 1-0 lead.
Adam Frazier drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first and scored on Josh Bell’s grounder to the pitcher.
It was the only run allowed by Brett Anderson, who gave up four hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two.
The A’s gave him plenty of support, batting around the order in a five-run second. Kang’ first throwing error came on a grounder by leadoff batter Khris Davis, pulling first baseman Bell off the bag. Kendry Morales tied the score with an RBI single. Musgrove hit Jurickson Profar to load the bases, and Phegley cleared them by driving one down the third-base line for a 4-1 lead.
That wasn’t the worst of it.
When Anderson bunted, Musgrove threw to third for the force out. But Kang’s throw to first skipped past Bell, and Musgrove had runners on second and third. Phegley scored on Semien’s groundout for a 5-1 lead.
“Joe will be the first one to tell you that his focus turns into trying to find a way to get a ground ball trying to get out of it,” Hurdle said, “but we didn’t have any ball security, which complicated things. And then he missed on some fastball locations. Before you know it, in a blink of an eye, five runs are on the board.”
And then it got even worse.
In the third, Musgrove walked Davis and gave up a single to Morales. Phegley singled to drive in his fourth run for a 6-1 lead. Anderson singled to load the bases with two outs. Then, on his 69th pitch, Musgrove walked Semien to make it 7-1.
“I don’t feel like I threw as bad as the results were,” Musgrove said. “I had chances to put guys away. I think I let them hang around too long, let them see too many pitches. They fouled off a lot. I had some long innings and got a little tired.”
That was it for Musgrove but not for Oakland.
Nick Kingham struck out Ramon Laureano to end the inning, but the A’s batted around the order again in the fourth. Matt Chapman hit a leadoff double and scored on Profar’s single. With the bases loaded, Phegley doubled to left to make it 11-1.
Anderson got his second single, this one to center, and Starling Marte’s throw to catcher Francisco Cervelli was on the money. Cervelli appeared to tag Phegley out, but home plate umpire Jerry Meals ruled Phegley safe. The Pirates challenged the call and, after a one-minute, 25-second review, it was overturned.
That wasn’t the only good news for the Pirates. Rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds singled to left in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. That’s the second-longest streak to start a major league career in club history. Reynolds has a chance to tie Gregory Polanco’s 2014 start of 11 consecutive games with a hit.
Chapman hit a two-run homer, his ninth, off Francisco Liriano in the seventh for a 13-1 lead, and Phegley led off the ninth with a homer to left, his fourth, off Richard Rodriguez to make it 14-1.