The Pittsburgh Pirates three game winning streak came to an end on Monday night
On Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies kicked off a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park in the City of Brotherly Love. The Pirates entered the series on the heels of a three-game weekend sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.
While it looked promising that the Pirates would continue their hot stretch on Monday night, late inning bullpen woes led to their undoing in a 6-5 loss. This drops the Pirates to 11-31 since the All-Star Break and 55-76 overall this season.
Joe Musgrove started for the Pirates and turned in a bounce back performance after struggling against the Washington National last week. In 6 innings of work Musgorve allowed just 2 runs on five hits, he did not walk a batter, and he struck out six.
The lone runs Musgrove allowed came on a 2-run home run in the 4th inning off the bat of Brad Miller. In his first at bat, Miller lined out to center field. Other than these two at bats, Musgorve limited hard contact throughout the night in what was an excellent start.
Big Joe also helped himself with the bat on Monday. With the Pirates trailing 2-0 in the top of the 5th inning, Musgrove lined a base hit of the left field wall to score Adam Frazier. Off of the bat, it appeared Musgrove had hit his first career home run. While he just missed the dinger, it did cut the Phillies lead to 2-1.
Jason Vargas started for the Phillies and was cruising until the 7th inning. Vargas had allowed just 1 run on five hits and zero walks through 6 innings of work. But in the 7th, the wheels came off.
Melky Cabrera singled to start the inning and scored on a Colin Moran double to tie the game at 2. After Vargas walked Jacob Stallings, he was lifted for lefty Jose Alvarez. Following a sacrifice bunt by Frazier, Josh Bell was intentionally walked and Kevin Nemwan recorded a 2-run single. Newman’s hit gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
With the Pirates now in front, Francisco Liriano was summoned to pitch the bottom of the 7th inning. Liriano would retire the Phillies in order, to keep the score at 4-2.
Richard Rodriguez replaced Liriano in the 8th. He struck out the first two batters he faced before coming unglued. Rodriguez allowed a solo home run to Bryce Harper and a 2-run shot to former Pirate Corey Dickerson. These two home runs gave the Phillies a 5-4 lead after 8 innings of play.
With one out in the 9th inning Bell stepped to the plate. Bell was only in the lineup due to remaining in the game as part of a double switch after his pinch hit intentional walk in the 7th. Bell proceeded to crush the first pitch he saw off of Philly closer Hector Neris to straight away center field. Bell’s 33rd home run of the season tied the game at 5.
In a perplexing decision, Clint Hurdle went to Chris Stratton in the bottom of the 9th inning. This came despite both Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez still being available in the bullpen.
Stratton walked two of the first three Phillie batters of the inning and allowed a single to load the bases with just one out. To his credit, Stratton then rose to the occasion. He got Rhys Hoskins to pop out in foul territory and struck out Harper to send the game to extra innings tied at 5.
In the 10th inning, Stratton found himself in trouble again. With two on and no one out Jean Segura hit a fast dropping ball toward shallow center field, but Starling Marte made an excellent running, sliding grab to catch the ball. He then fired the ball to second base where Newman made a great pick to finish off the double play.
Despite issuing four walks, Stratton pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief.
In the 11th inning Michael Feliz was summoned to pitch for the Pirates. Feliz has been great out of the Pirate bullpen of late, but he got burnt on Monday night. Despite being ahead in the count against the free swinging Sean Rodriguez, Feliz missed down the middle with a fastball. The ex-Pirate parked the Feliz fastball in the left field seats for a walk off home run.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 7:05 on Tuesday night. Steven Brault (3.98 ERA, 4.23 FIP) will look to continue his excellent work when he takes the ball for the Pirates. Veteran left Drew Smyly (6.99 ERA, 6.92 FIP) who has struggled mightily this season will take the ball for the Phillies.