PITTSBURGH – Though the offense provided a 4-0 lead after the third inning, the pitching staff was not up to the task of maintaining it, and the Pirates lost another seesaw battle with the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 8-7 tonight at PNC Park.
Making his Pirates debut, Drew Hutchison initially seemed to be heading towards a positive outing, but that abandoned him in a four-run fourth inning that would be his last of the night. Hutchison would end up allowing four earned runs on eight hits and one hit-by-pitch in his first start as a Pirate.
Manager Clint Hurdle did have some positive takeaways to share regarding Hutchison’s performance after the game.
“He had decent command early; moved [his fastball] around, elevated it when he wanted to,” said Hurdle. “The slider showed some good spin, some good depth.”
He praised Hutchison’s effort against Joey Votto in the third inning, when he got a swinging strikeout with a perfectly located inside fastball.
Hutchison did work out of a jam in the second inning, getting two strikeouts and a fly out after putting the first two Reds hitters on base, but he was unable to find his way out of trouble in the fourth inning. Brandon Phillips singled with one out, and Scott Schebler was hit by a pitch, bringing Eugenio Suarez to the plate with runners at first and second.
“I made the pitch I wanted [to Suarez],” said Hutchison. “I got the ground ball, which I was trying to do; it was just able to find a hole.”
Suarez’s single scored a run, and both Tucker Barnhart and Hernan Iribarren would follow with singles of their own, making the score 4-2.
After a sacrifice fly by Jose Peraza scored another run, a single by Zack Cozart tied the game at four before Cozart was caught between first and second to end the inning.
Hurdle indicated that Hutchison has had some issues when pitching from the stretch that played a role in the fourth inning.
“[He] tries to get a little quicker with runners on base; that works against him a little bit,” said Hurdle.
Though he declined to go into specifics about the problem, Hurdle did say clearly that the coaching staff has noticed an issue with Hutchison’s delivery when he is pitching from the stretch, and it will be something they continue to work on over the remainder of the season.
Williams Struggles in Relief
Coming in as a reliever, Trevor Williams would allow three more runs on four hits and a walk in the fifth inning to put the Reds up 7-4.
Joey Votto doubled to start the inning, and Adam Duvall would follow with an infield single that caromed off the mound. A bunt by Brandon Phillips should have led to an out, but neither Williams nor John Jaso charged the ball, and Phillips reached base.
“They’re giving us an out and I just have to go after it,” said Williams. “I think I was getting too antsy trying to ambush the bunt to the third-base side and get [a double play].”
Williams walked Schebler to score a run, then got a 5-2-3 double play against Suarez, but he could not finish off Tucker Barnhart, who doubled down the right field line, scoring the other two runs.
“I could have escaped that with only one run,” said Williams. “It was a 2-2 slider; he swung through [the slider] on the first pitch and it needed to be in the same spot. It wasn’t.”
The offense provided two more runs in the sixth inning to cut the Reds’ lead to 7-6, but Juan Nicasio would allow a solo home run to Joey Votto in the ninth inning to score what would be the winning run.
The Pirates threatened again in the bottom of the ninth, putting the winning run in scoring position after an RBI single by Francisco Cervelli, but Jordy Mercer would ground out against closer Tony Cingrani to end the game.
Kang Continues Hot Streak
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang reached base four times this evening, including wrapping his 18th home run just inside the left field foul pole. Kang is now hitting .500/.583/.1.095 since being recalled from the disabled list on September 5th.
Kang’s season line has now improved to .263/.347/.533 (136 wRC+), which in terms of offensive performance places him third among NL third basemen with at least 275 plate appearances, behind Kris Bryant and Matt Carpenter.
Harrison Leaves with Groin Injury
The Pirates reported that second baseman Josh Harrison left the game after suffering a right groin injury. Harrison had trouble after rounding first base on his two-run double to the right-center field gap and left the game immediately. Sean Rodriguez replaced Harrison and finished the game at second base.
Clint Hurdle did not have any information to share regarding Harrison’s injury after the game.
Coming into tonight, Harrison had hit .321/.340/.410 since returning to the leadoff spot on August 5th. Before leaving the game, he recorded two more hits and reached on a throwing error by Suarez in his four plate appearances.
- Josh Bell (2 H, BB) and Andrew McCutchen (3 BB) each reached base three times to give the top of the lineup a .667 on base percentage for the evening.
- Jeff Locke pitched two scoreless innings of relief, striking out two and allowing only one baserunner after a single by Joey Votto with two outs in the sixth.
- Drew Hutchison became the 51st player used by the Pirates this season, one shy of the franchise record of 52 in 2011.