The Pittsburgh Pirates were trying to salvage what was a disappointing homestand but instead lost 8-0 Sunday afternoon to the Cincinnati Reds.
This was a game in which Ryan Vogelsong struggled through four innings and the offense stranded the bases loaded on two separate occasions.
The loss puts the Pirates at 69-72 with 21 games remaining. This loss put the Pirates at 2-8 in their 10-game home stand.
“My vision is to get us playing better,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m not going to walk out of here anything other than I’ve got a job to do. I don’t carry negative emotions. Frustration is not going to help me do what I need to get those men motivated. Discouragement, I’m not going to go there. We needed to play better and we didn’t.”
Vogelsong (3-5) was left confused after this loss in which he had a positive bullpen session and 1-2-3 first inning before it all went wrong in a five-run second inning.
All nine Reds hitters batted and Andrew McCutchen had a ball go through his legs and was unable to make a diving grab later in the inning.
“I just got out of whack out there for some reason,” said Vogelsong. “I couldn’t even find a rhythm or a delivery. It’s been a while since something like that has happened to me.”
Vogelsong was due to bat in the second inning but stayed in the game. Hurdle attributed this to several relievers not being available to pitch.
So Vogelsong allowed an additional run to cross home in the third before ending his outing on a higher note, a scoreless fourth inning.
With the Reds already up 6-0, Hurdle elected to go with Tyler Glasnow as his first reliever. This was Glasnow’s first official relief appearance since July 19, 2012 when pitching in the Gulf Coast League.
It was Glasnow’s first major league appearance since being placed on the disabled list July 24 with right-shoulder discomfort.
This was a low-leverage opportunity where with the Reds ahead by a significant enough margin, that Glasnow did not have to worry about holding runners since it is an unwritten rule not to steal when a team has a lead of that particular magnitude.
Glasnow did allow a run in his first inning of work on a Ramon Cabrera RBI single that scored Brandon Phillips.
After scoreless sixth and seventh innings, Glasnow flinched once more loading the bases and then being removed for Jared Hughes. One run scored in the inning on a Tyler Holt RBI single, which was charged to Glasnow.
“I thought he was able to throw strikes, repeat his delivery and use his breaking ball,” Hurdle said. “It was good experience getting up and getting into it and dealing with it in a professional fashion.”
“It was nice getting out there and pitching again. I hadn’t done that in a while,” Glasnow said of the outing.
The Pirates meanwhile stranded the bases in both the second and fifth innings.
In the second, the bases were loaded with no outs before Chris Stewart and Ryan Vogelsong struck out and Jordy Mercer popped out.
Gregory Polanco was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes at the end of the third inning. Polanco took a 3-2 Brandon Finnegan (9-10) sinker in the lower inside part of the plate. Polanco was called out on strikes and took exception of the pitch. As a result, the Pirates right fielder received his first career ejection from home plate umpire Pat Hoberg.
“He said he asked him to leave four times and you can’t argue balls and strikes,” said Hurdle. “Gregory knows enough English now that if he wants to argue, he can argue. It got to the point where Pat said he’d had enough, asked him to leave and he didn’t.”
Monday the Pirates travel to Philadelphia for the beginning of an 11-game road trip. Gerrit Cole (7-9, 3.55 ERA) will be activated off the disabled list with his right posterior elbow inflammation injury and return after missing 13 games. His mound opponent will be Jeremy Hellickson (10-9, 3.90 ERA).
“I’m feeling good,” Cole said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and competing and give us a chance to win. I want to be able to do my job.”
Cole is 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies. Since 2014, the Pirates are 13-4 against their in-state opponent.
The Pirates are now six game out of a wild card spot with 21 games remaining. Time is running out on the Pirates, but Hurdle has not yet thrown in the towel.
“Not yet, not for me,” he said.
Josh Harrison (right-groin discomfort) did not disclose a timetable for his injury. He could not pin point at what point the injury first occurred but immediately called time when he reached second base in Saturday night’s game. General Manager Neal Huntington previously stated Harrison would be out a significant amount of time, negating the earlier notion that this injury was day-to-day. Harrison planned on packing his bag for the team’s trip to Philadelphia.
Photo credit: @Pirates