Pirates Notebook: Losing Streak Reaches Five; Karstens, Walker Feel Good After Sim Game
The Pittsburgh Pirates streak extended to five games after losing their second straight in Cincinnati on Tuesday. After falling in extra-innings on Monday night, the Pirates were able to put up double-digits in hits (11), but still struggled on the offensive side of the ball, plating just three runs as the Reds scored five as their current struggles continue.
With the loss, the Bucs are just three games over .500 (72-69) after sitting with a 16 over mark to start the month of August. Their five game losing streak is their longest since mid-April (also five games) as they’ve fallen nine of their past 11 games overall in September.
The lone runs that the club was able to plate came from the long ball.
Alex Presley took a 3-2 sinker from the Reds’ Mike Leake with one out in the first and went deep to right field. It marked No. 9 on the season for Presley. Gaby Sanchez connected for a pinch-hit two-run homer to bring the game within one run in the seventh inning. It was his sixth on the season. The Pirates had several opportunities to score runs, but several double plays, a pick off at first base and five left stranded was the difference maker in the loss.
Kevin Correia made his second spot start in place of Jeff Karstens, who threw a simulated game at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday. After the Pirates took a quick one-run lead, Correia quickly gave it back in the bottom of the first.
Brandon Phillips took the first pitch from Correia, an 89 mph fastball, and launched it for a line drive solo-homer to left field. Correia needs 25 pitches to get through the frame, leaving two runners stranded.
A series of weird plays occurred in the second inning, in which the Reds were able to score three runs.
A leadoff walk started the inning for Correia. With one out, pitcher Mike Leake showed bunt, which drew the infield in, then hit a slug bunt that went to left field to put two runners on. Phillips stepped to the plate next and ripped an RBI double off the glove of Clint Barmes at short that deflected and flew into left field.
Two more runs scored after a wild pitch and an error. Catcher Michael McKenry chased down the wild throw and attempted to throw home to nail Leake at the plate, but the pitcher slid home and kicked the ball away allowing Phillips to trot home for the third run of the inning.
Correia went on to allow his leadoff batter to reach in each of his next two frames, but after the lengthy second, was able to toss up four zeros before handing the ball over to the bullpen. Overall, Correia was charged with four runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out two while throwing 94 pitches, 58 strikes.
Karstens, Walker Take Part In Simulated Game
Jeff Karstens (right hip flexor) threw a 30-pitch simulated game at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday afternoon, which was followed by 30 warm up pitches. The right-hander said that he was pain free afterwards.
Neil Walker (low back tightness) took swings during Karstens sim game at the field today, and too, said he felt good afterwards. Manager Clint Hurdle said that he would be open to using Walker off the bench in a pinch-hit situation if needed on Tuesday. Walker will continue with his workouts on Wednesday, and with the club’s off day on Thursday, is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game in Chicago. Walker has been out of the lineup for 13 straight games.
Hughes, Phillips Settle On-Field Dispute
Things got heated between the Pirates reliever Jared Hughes and Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips in the eighth inning of Pittsburgh’s loss in 14 innings. After Hughes hit Phillips by a pitch, the infielder flipped the ball back to Hughes on the mound, before both players bickered back and forth. Several Pirates players were angered, including veteran A.J. Burnett who came out on to the field to yell at Phillips. The heated argument was broke up from the umpires, as both benches were warned.
After the game last night, Phillips tweeted:
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, both Hughes and Phillips resolved the dispute prior to the game on Tuesday after Andrew McCutchen set up a phone conversation. In the report, Phillips believed that Hughes yelled “boy” to the second baseman as he went to first base, which he thought was a racial slur. Hughes declined making such comment.
Both players chatted by phone for several moments to work through the issue themselves. The Pirates investigated the matter, as Major League Baseball looked into the situation, but allowed the two players to resolve it.
Rotation Set for Chicago
The Pirates set their rotation against Chicago, which kicks off Friday for a four-game set. Kevin Correia will remain in the rotation, getting a third spot start in place of Karstens. The rotation will be as follows: James McDonald Friday, Jeff Locke Saturday, Wandy Rodriguez Sunday and Correia on Monday.