Pirates’ Joe Musgrove hit hard again in blowout loss to Mets | TribLIVE.com

Pirates’ Joe Musgrove hit hard again in blowout loss to Mets

Jerry DiPaola
The Mets’ J.D. Davis rounds first base after hitting a two-run homer off Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove during the first inning Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.
Mets shortstop Amed Rosario takes the late throw from catcher Tomas Nido as the Pirates’ Starling Marte steals second during the first inning Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.
Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove is surrounded by teammates as he waits to hand the ball to manager Clint Hurdle during the fourth inning against the New York Mets on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019.

Perhaps what happened to Joe Musgrove on Sunday at PNC Park was nothing more than a bad night’s sleep leading to a stiff back.

Maybe Josh Bell is right, and he’s not trying too hard, and a good session or two in the batting cage will fix what ails him.

Whatever the reason for the recent failures of two of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most important players, the team has lost 18 of its past 22 games. The New York Mets pounded Musgrove and relief pitcher Yefry Ramirez with 16 hits — nine for extra bases — in the first seven innings of a 13-2 victory in front of a crowd of 22,716.

Musgrove (8-10, 4.69 ERA) has reached a point this season he never has crossed in his first three seasons. He has pitched 124 2/3 innings, a career high, in barely more than four months. He allowed five or more runs Sunday for the eighth time in 23 starts (third in the past five). He gave up eight runs on 10 hits, including four doubles and two home runs, in 3 1/3 innings.

“At times, the stuff just didn’t have good finish to it, and they took advantage of it,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Musgrove’s efforts. “Some ground balls found holes, but balls found the other side of the fence, too. A combination of everything.”

Musgrove admitted, “Physically, I didn’t feel great.”

That sounds ominous, but he said he’s not worried.

“I don’t know if it was the way I slept (Saturday) night or something, but I was real stiff in my back,” he said. “I wasn’t able to get that last 10 percent of the pitch, driving through the spots I wanted.”

Musgrove is aware he never has pitched this number of innings before this season.

“My goal this year is to make 32 starts and be healthy and take the ball when it’s my turn,” he said. “Knock on wood. I haven’t had anything set that back yet.

“Ultimately, you don’t want to just run out there and pitch to pitch. I want to be successful and provide my team with a chance to win.

“I’m curious (about the ultimate effect from his workload), but I feel real good right now. A few tweaks you have to stay on top of, but this time of year everybody has aches and pains.

“Whatever I felt today is nothing that’s going to be carried over. I don’t see it lingering around for a week.”

Bell’s problems at the plate have lingered for more than three weeks. Actually, since he returned from the All-Star Game.

He is hitting .186 (13 of 70) since the break, dropping his average 20 points from to .282. He has had only two multi-hit games and five RBIs in that time and no home runs since July 5 after hitting 27 to that point. Hurdle pulled Bell from Sunday’s game after he bounced out to first base in his only two at-bats.

“He needs to be off his feet,” Hurdle said. “There comes a point in time when I don’t think there is an upside of continuing.”

Bell said he’s not trying to hit home runs, is not simply trying too hard and will turn around his misfortune.

“I feel like right now, I can’t really put a finger on exactly what it is,” he said. “I feel like I’m sticking to a routine that maybe needs to be tweaked.”

Bell often is his worst critic, but he said he has endured the mental effects of his slump by telling himself to “count your blessings.”

“I’m still able to wake up every day and come to the ballpark and realize where I’m at,” he said. “I had a couple really good months, a couple terrible months in my mind.

“I’m going to prove to myself and the organization what I’m going to be in the future, and it starts (Monday).”

Hurdle said he doesn’t know if Bell is trying too hard.

“I just know he’s not getting the results he wants, and some of the things that were working for him in the first half haven’t played out with any consistency in the second half.”

Love baseball? Stay up-to-date with the latest Pittsburgh Pirates news.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pirates
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.