The Pittsburgh Pirates had a five-run lead in Wednesday’s game, but they were unable to keep it, falling 7-6 to the San Francisco Giants.
This loss hurts. A lot. The Pirates had no reason losing this game, but they did.
It appeared things were looking up for the struggling Pirates offense when first baseman John Jaso led off the bottom of the first inning with a first-pitch home run off San Francisco starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The power became contagious for the Pirates, as Gregory Polanco and Jung Ho Kang each hit their 10th homers of the season, in the second and third innings, respectively.
The Pirates continued to pile on more runs, and things were looking up for a team that had previously lost 11 of its last 13 games. After just the third inning, the Pirates led, 6-1. Samardzija was pulled after just three innings, tying the record for the shortest start of his successful nine-year career.
On the other side, Pittsburgh starting pitcher Francisco Liriano gave up three hits.
But things started to fall apart quickly for the pitcher. Liriano’s delivery felt rushed, and he was pulled after five innings, at just 89 pitches — he allowed four runs on six hits, walking three and striking out six.
The Pirates have had trouble this season with their pitching, so reliever Jared Hughes entered the game hoping to hold on to his team’s 6-4 lead. But, he departed just 25 pitches later with a loss. Hughes (0-1) allowed San Francisco third baseman Ramiro Pena’s first double of the season, and Hughes gave up another double to Giants second baseman Joe Panik, which ultimately proved to be the game-winning hit. (Panik’s ball was misplayed by Polanco, who was playing in left field.)
Not much has gone right for the Pirates of late, and the margin for error has become less and less. Now, Thursday afternoon becomes even more important — a loss would mean Pittsburgh would lose a fourth consecutive series.
Times are tough for the Pirates, and things need to change. If they don’t, this season will only get worse.
San Francisco rookie relief pitcher Derek Law, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, pitched two innings at PNC Park for the Giants in front of a large contingent of his family and friends. Law allowed just two hits and earned the win, his third of the season.
Starling Marte, who left Tuesday’s game with left foot discomfort, didn’t start Wednesday’s game, but he did come in a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Before Wednesday’s game, Pittsburgh recalled left-hand pitcher Kyle Lobstein from Triple-A ball and optioned right-hand pitcher Wilfredo Boscan, who struggled Wednesday, to the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Lobstein is a relief pitcher, a commodity sorely needed in a tired Pirates bullpen.
In Thursday’s four-game series finale, lefty Jon Niese (6-4, 4.74 ERA) will start on the mound for the Pirates. He’s had trouble in his previous two starts, allowing 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings. On the mound for the Giants will be Albert Suarez (2-1, 3.69 ERA), who will start for just the fourth time in his career.
Image credit: Keith Srakocic/AP Photo