SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. – Mistakes are part of the game of baseball. They’re not always called errors, but no team goes a game without making a wrong move.
When you’re playing the best team in baseball, mistakes will cost you the game. That’s what happened tonight when the Pirates lost to the Rays 4-1.
“There’s not a lot of room for error,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said after the game. “We left 11 guys on base. We didn’t execute with runners in scoring position, and you just can’t do that.
The Pirates managed five hits, but had six walks. They went up against seven different pitchers tonight, with the Rays going with a bullpen game. That prevented the Pirates offense from getting into a rhythm tonight.
Roansy Contreras was cruising along until those mistakes showed up in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Contreras got Jose Siri to pop fly to center field. Rodolfo Castro ran back from short, and Jack Suwinski ran in from center field. The ball ended up falling between the two, with Suwinski losing track of it in the white roof on the Trop. Had that been caught, the Pirates may have escaped the inning with no damage, still tied 1-1.
Instead, Manuel Margot advanced to second on the missed pop fly, and scored on a single to right-center. The Rays then added a second run on a successful double steal, with Hedges firing down to second from his knees, allowing Siri to break from third and easily beat the return throw home.
The Pirates weren’t the only ones making mistakes. In the sixth inning, Hedges was up with runners at second and third and one out. The situation was created after Tucupita Marcano pinch hit and sacrificed the runners over with a bunt. During the at-bat to Hedges, Ryan Thompson had what the Pirates felt was a balk. If called, it would have made the score 3-2, with a runner at third and one out.
“The umpires told me they missed it,” said Shelton, who went out to argue the call.
Hedges struck out, followed by a strikeout from Hayes to end the inning and the biggest scoring threat the Pirates had.
“I still should have got the job done and got a guy in, but it happens,” said Hedges.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, former Pirates prospect Harold Ramirez hit a solo homer to left-center, putting the game further out of reach for the Rays, who improved to 24-6 on the year.
Contreras finished the day with 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, with four walks and three strikeouts. He was backed up by Dauri Moreta and Yohan Ramirez, who combined for 2.2 shutout innings to close out the game.
“I feel like I got myself in big counts tonight that got me a little bit in trouble,” said Contreras through an interpreter. “They were able to capitalize, but we couldn’t do that thing on our part.”
The Pirates had five hits on the day, with two each coming from Bryan Reynolds and Connor Joe — who are separated by three guys in the order who went 0-for-10.
This is the toughest matchup the Pirates have faced in this young season. They held their own for a bit, but mistakes cost them and they couldn’t capitalize on the limited advantages they had. With the loss, the Pirates drop to 20-10 on the season. Mitch Keller will take the mound tomorrow in game two against the Rays.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
I hope they don’t try and get cute with Bae in CF with the lefty on the mound.
McClanahan is nasty. I would go Joe-Reynolds-Cutch. DH Andujar.
Side Note – Cutch has been really struggling.
I’ve notice the struggles of Cutch as well, there’s gonna be a lot of regression soon, Cutch, Santana, Suwinski, Castro, let’s hope is not all at once!
or you can have marcano come in and bunt……….or put bae and marcano 1 and 2 and tell them both to bunt until they have 2 strikes. We won’t do it, but i think i would. And yes, cutch is struggling. He was due.
Here’s how nasty McClanahan is…
Two starts ago he threw 88 pitches, 32 were swing and miss strikes!
I gotta say- i think a bullpen game is still the most stupid ideas in baseball. If ANYTHING goes wrong in the next 2 games with your starter in the early innings, your bullpen is toast. it was always a dumb idea even when the rays weren’t good but now when they are, its just idiotic. Yes, you may win that game, but it weakens your team and there is no debating it.
Roansy’s fastball lost two ticks between the 1st and the 5th, and the Rays’ last two run-scoring hits came during a streak of 19 straight offspeed pitches.
I despise this style of baseball. Yes I’m yelling to get off my lawn, and at the clouds above it!
I don’t get why he would throw a fastball inside during that stretch…
#he’sareliever. If he doesn’t find a way to have a playable fastball there’s alomost no chance that he remains a starter in this league.
Yet, he pitched relatively fine, and 5 innings from a starter is now pretty common in this league. One of those runs should never have scored, twice over….. and 3 runs in 5+ innings against the best team in baseball is hardly a game which tells us he needs to be a reliever.
He’s not a reliever. All members of the rotation have 6 starts, only Keller has thrown more innings.
At least the Cubs, Ratbirds and Brewers lost…..May 2nd pennant watch….
Wtf happened to devil magic? Was there an exorcism we missed?
Nojinx, Nojinx, Nojinx!
The difference in approach between the two teams came into focus a bit with Shelton’s idiotic decision to bunt runners up for Hedges.
The bunt was bad enough, as was wasting a player when he could have had Mathias bunt. Having done it, though, he compounded the blunder by not batting for Hedges.*. But, no, you can’t diss your veteran by hitting for him mid-game, even though the game was clearly on the line at that point.
Cash, by contrast, used seven pitchers to hold the Pirates to one run. Shelton would have been too obsessed with conserving the bullpen, John Russell style, but Cash was determined to win.
One of the beat writers ran a story a couple days ago about how BC and Shelton aren’t looking at the record. I bet Cash is. They carry on about how they need veterans to show the young guys how to win. Why isn’t that management’s job, too? They’ve had this amazing start. How can the record NOT matter? Why not show these guys you believe in them by doing everything you can to win every game?
*I’m going to add here that I think folks are still underestimating how bad a hitter Hedges is. His .140-hitting isn’t a SSS issue. It’s the hitter he is. He makes so little good contact that his BABIP routinely comes in around .200. There’s a reason why, despite the vaunted defense, he’s on pace to finish well below replacement again.
Bunting was a good idea. Allowing Hedges *one of the worst hitters in the major leagues* to hit, was the obvious mistake. Honestly, allowing Hedges to continue to start 4 games out of 7 is the big mistake as Delay continues to delivery on both sides of the ball
I listened to the Rays broadcasters (who were actually extremely informative) and they couldn’t wrap their heads around the decision to bunt with Hedges coming up next. They also completely agreed that there was a balk but the umpires missed it. Very knowledgeable and fun guys, I’ll probably listen to their radio feed again tonight.
marcano is a great bunter and it literally took a perfect play to get him out by a relief pitcher whom doesn’t get much practice with this stuff. It was a high percentage play. Leaving Hedges to hit was the mistake. No doubt.
It’s like sacrifice bunt to get too the pitcher to bat, if you bunt thier you have to bat for hedges.
Yeah, you have a pretty decent hitter up, but you hit for him to get the platoon advantage, only you don’t let the PH swing the bat. Then you send up a guy who’s hitting literally HALF what the other two are hitting, and you let him swing the bat. The incompetence is off the charts.
Yes, headline says it all. Their defense & small ball were exceptional . Outside of Hayes and Castro our D was not and we , at least for last night, didn’t deliver in key spots. I love hedges’ enthusiasm but I didn’t think that was a balk. He paused. Troubling that runners are also running at will against him and that we were victimized by a little league first to third steal. Let’s grab one out of 3 here and head back home ! 🏴☠️
The length of pause , or lack there of more accurately, is routinely called a balk. The fact Shelton was told by at least one of them they missed it, says it all. No way Shelton makes that statement unless it’s true.
It was a tough game, and the Pirates would have had to play excellent to pull off an opening game win at TB. Cash emptied the BP – no doubt, he was taking nothing for granted. Contreras did well, as did Moreta and Ramirez.
Big star for me last night and since April 10th is Rodolfo Castro at SS. 10 Chances last night when there were only 24 outs for the Rays. His fielding percentage is up to .937 at SS, and 1.000 at both 2B and 3B. In the first 2 games after taking over for the injured Oneil Cruz, he made 2 errors in his first 18 innings at SS. Since then, more than 140 innings at SS, only 2 more errors.
And, 2nd would be Ke’Bryan Hayes, leading all 3B with +6 Defensive Runs Saved. BTW, Carlos Santana at 1B has +2 DRS.
Oh, great article by Fangraphs Dan Szymborski yesterday regarding the Pirates
Szym summed up my thoughts perfectly.
Turning point of the game is Suwinski misplaying the Trop up, err, pop up in the 5th inning. If he catches it, Contreras gets out of the inning easily. Not sure why in 2023 MLB doesn’t force Owner to paint the ceiling of that dump of a ballpark a different color than a baseball.
Next biggest play is the uncalled balk. Not really sure why MLB doesn’t allow for a Manager’s challenge. It was plain as day the Pitcher never came set.
Lastly, Hayes swinging at a 3-1 sweeper that started outside and was easily 2feet outside when he swung at it was the worst swing decision of the season by any player. Then he watches a borderline pitch go by with a full count to strike out. He walks there, it’s bases loaded for Reynolds.
If one looks at final score, it may appear Rays won handily. In reality, 3 plays which should be routine for players and umpires, made the difference between winning and losing.
I’ve been busy past few days and finally got to watch this game and just felt the Pirates were realllly unlucky. No balk call then no strike call… overall felt like they just couldn’t win this one. Hopefully losing streak ends tomorrow.
Sac bunt from the 8 hitter to bring up Hedges? Hard to believe.
Case could’ve been made for Andujar PH there , then bring in delay.
You’re questioning Shelton’s strategy there, sticking with a guy who has a 24 wRC+? You just gotta remember that it’s never about his moves but about … execution, as he reminded us in the postgame:
Unless he’s including himself in there as not executing the appropriate move, then there is still a lack of accountability when things go wrong.
To be clear, I’m on board with retaining Shelton because it does seem clear that players like playing for him and now that we have veteran leaders to help players maintain focus/intensity, I think we’re in good shape (which of course is easy to say when you’re 20-10). I just hope he’s including himself in the “we” and that it isn’t only about the players when we lose.
I’m on board with retaining Shelton because there probably isn’t time to get a new guy in place before tonight’s game.
If the guy ever even remotely looked like he’s having a good time, I’d like him.
He just always has the look of a soldier in a prison camp.
they instead went for the forced balk strategy
hedges´ dramatics are waning on me – that fake batter´s interference the other day made my eyes roll. I guess the umps think its cute and thats how he gets away with shit like that
I have no problem with that. The whole game is based off deception. Fake steals, fake bunts, catchers stealing pitches, fandom tags, trapped balls, disguising pitches. Maybe Hedges overreacted but the game is full of it and it is up to the ump to figure it out.
just seems cheap, tacky and something the bad guys do
Well, the best at being cheap and tacky retired last year and is probably headed to the HoF. And he won his protest over a balk not being called. Hedges has to be more convincing since he’ll never have Yadi’s bat.