With the Pittsburgh Pirates fourth loss in a row, they fell half a game below the Oakland Athletics and within 2.5 games of the Washington Nationals.
The second half of the season can be summed up by this tweet from Pirates Post Gazette writer Mike Persak:
Bucs threaten in the 9th but don't score. They lose, 4-3
They have been swept for the 11th time this season. They are 10-30 since the all-star break, 6-22 in their last 28 games and 2-12 in their last 14.
Bucs are 49-84 overall. Mets come to town tomorrow.
— Mike Persak (@MikeDPersak) September 4, 2022
JT Brubaker returned from Paternity Leave and bounced back after being torched for six runs against the Atlanta Braves.
Brubaker threw 5.1 innings while giving up three runs, of which two were earned. The Toronto Blue Jays scored one run in three successive innings against Brubaker with a RBI single in the second inning, RBI single in the third inning, and then a Cavan Biggio solo home run in the fourth. The run in third inning was unearned due to Rodolfo Castro’s 10th error on the season. In total Brubaker gave up five hits, two walks, a HBP, and struck out five batters. His ERA fell to 4.35 on the season.
The offense made things interesting when Josh VanMeter hit a two-run double in the fourth inning, scoring Ben Gamel and Cal Mitchell to bring the score to 3-2. In the fifth inning Oneil Cruz his a 115.8 MPH shot to the Pirates bullpen to tie the score.
In the sixth inning Brubaker left with two on and one out for Chase De Jong. After walking the first batter to load the bases, De Jong induced a groundball double play to keep the score tied. On the season De Jong has inherited 19 runners and allowed only four of them to score.
Duane Underwood Jr. came in for the seventh inning after the offense went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the sixth. It was an interesting choice, as Underwood Jr. threw 37 pitches the night before without completing a full inning. He would throw only 15 pitches to complete a full inning, but not before giving up four hits and the lead. The first two batters reached on singles and then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit into a double play. Then the next two batters each singled for the 4-3 lead.
Tyler Heineman hit a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh, but Cruz grounded out to end the inning.
Wil Crowe came out for the eighth inning and labored through 27 pitches issuing two walks, but kept it a one-run game. Yohan Ramirez was tabbed for the ninth inning after the offense had another 1-2-3 inning and was able to have his own quick inning throwing only five pitches while collecting a strike out.
The bottom of the 9th started off great for the Pirates with a Jack Suwinski single. Suwinski moved to third after Cal Mitchell singled. Greg Allen replaced Mitchell and was able to steal 2B to give the Pirates runners on second and third with no outs. But, the offense wasn’t up to the task. Josh VanMeter, Tucupita Marcano, and Kevin Newman would all go down swinging. Two batters known for their contact ability were unable to make contact in a big moment.
Best the Pirates can hope for at this point is to rekindle their 2021 magic when the New York Mets were again the NL East division leaders salivating at a series against the Pirates, before getting swept and their season crumbling.
Mets @ Pirates
Time: 12:35 PM EST POSTPONED
Pirates Starter: Mitch Keller (4-10, 4.43)
Mets Starter: Taijuan Walker (10-3, 3.45)
Keller Notes: Mitch Keller is coming off a game when he collected ten strike outs across six innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was interesting in that this was the first game in quite some time that Keller didn’t lean on his Sinker. In fact he relied heavily on his Fourseam Fastball. It’ll be interesting to see what mix he relies on against the Mets. This will also be Keller’s career high 24th start of the season. If he’s able to complete five innings he will also surpass his 2021 innings total between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
UPDATE: Today’s game has been postponed due to rain. They will play a day/night doubleheader on Wednesday now