For a second time this season, Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was down on the ground after not getting a bunt attempt down.
This time the result was not as dramatic as Vogelsong fouled a ball on the bunt and was immediately checked on by head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk and manager Clint Hurdle.
“I asked him at the plate if he was good to put it down, and he said he would get it down,” Hurdle said. “He’s been gritty ever since he’s shown up. He’s a tough man.”
Vogelsong (2-3) was able to put the bunt down and received a loud ovation for his efforts.
“I was pretty determined to get it down,” he said. “You’ve got two choices; you can be soft and not do it or you buckle down, stick your nose in there and get it down. I’ve chosen the second one. I know it’s part of the game. You just have to get out of the way and get back in there.”
Despite Vogelsong’s effort, the Pirates lost and as a result were swept by the Marlins, 3-2.
“You can’t be mad at him. That’s what you’re supposed to do,” Vogelsong said of his mound opponent Jose Ureña. “It’s really my fault for missing the first one. I should’ve gotten the first one down and then I’m probably doing the same thing he’s doing. Give him a shot, and if you don’t get it down, you have to make it tough.”
The Pirates had a successful west coast trip winning both series and returning to PNC Park on a four-game winning streak including a series sweep against the San Francisco Giants.
Back in Pittsburgh, the Pirates were outclassed against a team currently holding a coveted National League Wild Card spot.
“It’s the perfect snapshot of the game,” said Hurdle. “You go on the road and play how you play, and then come back home and come up short. That’s why we encourage our guys that you’re not as good as you think you are and not as bad as you think you are. You play in the moment and play for the game you’re chasing today. We’ll start again tomorrow.”
Pinch-hit dilemma answered
In the seventh inning, Hurdle decided to pinch-hit John Jaso for Antonio Bastardo.
At the time, Sean Rodriguez was on second base with one out in the inning.
Hurdle was asked why Matt Joyce was not the choice considering his success rate, especially in the seventh inning or later.
“If we go to Joyce, you’re going to get the left-hander that’s in the bullpen, I think,” Hurdle said. “I don’t think that’s as good of a situation as having the right-hander on Jaso. That’s the reason for my decision.”
Hurdle believed in Jaso’s ability against the right-handed Nick Wittgren instead of trying to waste Joyce to get to one of the Marlins two left-handed options in Hunter Cervenka.
Had the Marlins gone to Cervenka with Joyce the play, Hurdle would have called on Francisco Cervelli.
Jaso ended up striking out looking as Wittgren quick pitched the pinch-hitter.
Bell “vanilla” on defense, aggressive on offense
Josh Bell made his first career major league start in this game batting sixth and playing first base.
Bell had a rather routine day defensively as Hurdle stated, he was not challenged much defensively calling the day “vanilla” from that perspective.
The first baseman disagreed a bit with this assessment, as he was unable to scoop Sean Rodriguez’s throw on a fifth inning Adeiny Hechavarria ground ball. He stated that he should make that time nine times out of 10 and that he would work at it more.
At the plate, Bell had a sacrifice fly hit to left field as part of a two-run fourth inning that gave the Pirates a lead.
In the sixth, Bell hit a two-out single the other way that appeared to be hit softly to Christian Yelich.
With the Pirates down a run after the Marlins scored two runs in the fifth inning, Bell made a break for second and Yelich’s throw was just in time to record the final out.
“At that part of the game, I was pretty much out of the box, and then got halfway there and saw it would take a perfect throw to get me out,” said Bell. “I tried to stay aggressive. Yelich was able to keep his momentum coming forward.”
Hurdle supported Bell’s decision given the timing in the game. For Bell, he stated that he had no hesitation and first base coach Nick Leyva was in agreement to send him.
In the ninth inning, Marlins pitcher Fernando Rodney froze him on a 98-mph fastball.
“He definitely froze me,” said Bell. “It’s one of those I wish I could have fouled off to have another chance.”
The Houston Astros come to PNC Park and like the Pirates find itself on the outside just looking in with the wild card race. Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.00 ERA) will face Doug Fister (11-8, 3.76 ERA).
Photo credit: @Pirates