If the Pittsburgh Pirates fail to make the playoffs or, much worse, fail to finish above .500, the reason why is simple. All they do is have to look into the mirror as they will have no one else to blame but themselves.
As has become the norm for this team as of late, the Bucs wasted opportunity after opportunity in a heartbreaking 14-inning 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
The box score would suggest that Ryan Ludwick won the game with an infield single in the bottom of the 14th, but the reality was the Pirates gave this one away long before that.
This team simply can’t take advantage of situations and gave another game away like they were handing out Halloween candy.
The Bucs had chances to win this one before it ever went into extra frames, but couldn’t get the job done.
They took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth in what was the biggest inning in quite some time for this offense. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a solo homer to put the Bucs on the board.
The Pirates then loaded the bases and Rod Barajas delivered a rare bloop single to drive in Pedro Alvarez to make it 2-0. Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez delivered an RBI ground out to make it 3-0, but that was all the offense could deliver on the night.
Speaking of Rodriguez, he was outstanding again.
He allowed a solo shot to Chris Heisey in the fourth, but cruised into the seventh, tossing 6.2 innings of three-hit ball, striking out five on the night. But after allowing a two-out infield single to Todd Frazier, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle had a quick hook with Rodriguez and replaced him with Jared Hughes, who promptly allowed a two-run double to Dioner Navarro to tie the game at three.
It stayed that way until the 14th when with runners on second and third, thanks to a wild pitch from Rick VandenHurk, Ludwick hit a two-out grounder in the hole that shortstop Chase d’Arnaud made a great diving play on, but d’Arnaud couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly and Devin Mesoraco scored the winning run.
However the story of the game was all of the missed opportunities from the Pirates offense, which wasted a great start from Rodriguez and an outstanding effort from the bullpen who allowed only one run and five hits through seven innings of work.
No opportunity was as gift-wrapped for the Bucs as the top half of the 14th when the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to a Brock Holt double, Eric Fryer walk and Andrew McCutchen single. But d’Arnaud, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata turned in three of the worst at bats possible and the Bucs left the bags loaded.
On the evening, the Pirates left 15 runners on base and went only 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. In addition, after the Barajas RBI single in the fourth, Pirates’ hitters went 4-for-33 the rest of the game; including having 13 men retired in a row before a Jose Tabata single in the eighth. But with Tabata aboard, Hurdle oddly had pinch-hitter Jeff Clement, who has one major-league hit in the past two years, swinging on a 3-0 count and he grounded out to first.
After that, the Bucs wasted a Starling Marte double in the ninth when neither Holt nor pinch-hitter Travis Snider could drive him in.
Then in the 10th, Aroldis Chapman walked the bases loaded but the Pirates couldn’t capitalize.
After that, the Pirates didn’t have a good at bat until the 14th when Holt doubled.
The Reds weren’t without their chances either as they had opportunities in the 10th off of Chris Resop and the 11th of Joel Hanrahan.
This turned into one of many games the Bucs have left on the field as of late, a trend to hope to put an end to Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
Notes: Hughes hit Brandon Phillips in the 8th, which could have been retaliation for the Reds throwing at Andrew McCutchen last month. As expected, Phillips acted like Phillips normally would and caused a minor stir…..There were a total of 471 pitches thrown in the 14-innings (283 for strikes)….Game time was 5 hours and 22 minutes….The Reds went a combined 8-for-48 at the plate while the Bucs went 9-for-50…Both teams struck out 13 times on the night….With the expanded September rosters, 49 combined players saw action (25 Reds)….Only Tabata and McCutchen had multi-hit games for the woeful Pirates offense (each with two hits).
Winning Pitcher: Alfredo Simon (3-2)
Losing Pitcher: Rick VandenHurk (0-1)
MVP: Simon – Working out of bases loaded 14th inning jam
LVP: Alvarez – 0-for-6, 4 K, left a small village on base
Play of the Game: VandenHurk’s wild pitch in the 14th allowed the winning run to move to third base
Home Runs: McCutchen (26), Heisey (7)
Up Next: Tuesday, September 11 at 7:05 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds
Probable Starters: A.J. Burnett (15-6, 3.68 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.03)