Steven Brault shoulders blame in Pirates' loss to Rockies
Steven Brault stood in front of his locker Monday night, faced a gang of reporters asking questions about the Pirates' 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies and put the blame squarely on his shoulders.
"I was almost my own Kryptonite tonight," he said.
He only walked two batters in six innings — almost reason to celebrate these days in major league baseball — but they both scored.
And, then, there was Trevor Story, a .177 hitter coming into the game.
With one out, two on in the fourth inning and the Pirates already down, 2-0, Brault jumped ahead of Story 0-2, something he's been working on in recent weeks. But Story waited him out, and hit a 3-2 pitch into the left-field seats to give the Rockies a 5-0 lead.
That was more than enough on cold night at PNC Park.
"That just can't happen," Brault said. "The point was to throw a slider down in the dirt, and I threw it down the middle.
"As soon as it was out of my hand, it was pretty much, 'I just hope he doesn't hit me' kind of thing."
Hope wasn't enough, but the Pirates (11-5) remained in first place in the National League Central. The Rockies improved to 10-8 without slugger Nolan Arenado, who is skipping this three-game series after being suspended five games for his part in a brawl with the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.
"The fastball command just wasn't there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Brault. "The efficiency we needed for him to be competitive.
"At the same time, as he continues to grow and learn, there are 12 times three pitches or less."
Which was good on night when the Pirates, playing their seventh game in seven days, were short in the bullpen.
"But the overall body of work, he left himself some openings that a good hitting team took advantage of," Hurdle said.
"I didn't get the bite on my slider that I usually do," Brault said when asked if the 36-degree temperature at game time was a factor. "I don't like using excuses like the weather because everybody is dealing with it. You have to be able to overcome that.
"Tonight, I made some mistakes. When you make mistakes, they punish you for it. It helps get you better."
Consistent with his nature, Brault chose to look ahead positively toward Tuesday's game.
"(Tuesday), everybody is going to be up (in the bullpen)," he said. "Trevor (Williams) is going to be pitching, and we're just going to win and that will be cool."
While taking blame for his pitches, he also made himself accountable for the single up the middle by Carlos Gonzalez, one batter before Story.
Brault took a quick stab at it with his glove, but quickly pulled it back thinking shortstop Jordy Mercer would field it and get an inning-ending double play.
Wrong. The ball bounced between Mercer and third baseman Colin Moran, who was pulled over in a drastic defensive shift, and the Rockies had two runners aboard for Story.
"I've always been very aggressive going to get the ball," Brault said. "When the bouncer goes up the middle like that, it's much easier for them to grab it.
"I swear I looked back and Jordy was right behind second. I must have blanked."
Hurdle said he hadn't looked at the replay and had no opinion on the play.
"I don't have time to run up and watch the replay," he said in response to a reporter's question. "I don't get as many looks at it as you do.
"I just know we needed to make better pitches throughout the course of the game."
Left fielder Corey Dickerson recorded his major league leading fourth assist, catching Ian Desmond trying to tag up from first to second in the sixth inning.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.