I don’t want to put too much stock into any individual April baseball game, but this is a pretty tough loss to swallow. The Pirates went into the seventh inning with a two-run lead despite Wandy Rodriguez spending four innings throwing floating meatballs to Brewer hitters, and then the Pirates’ best relievers served up two home runs to Ryan Braun in the final three innings to flip the game from a win into a loss. It was hard to watch because the outcome was more or less inevitable from the second that Jean Segura lined a single just over the glove of the leaping Clint Barmes. Grilli has looked OK this year, but his control has not all that good, and Russell Martin decided to call for a fastball in on Braun’s hands to jam him to start the at-bat. Grilli didn’t get the ball anywhere near in on the hands enough and the result was that he might as well have thrown Braun a beach ball with a rocket launcher on the back.
Of course, it’s hard to lay all the blame on Grilli. The Pirates’ defense didn’t do Wandy Rodriguez a lot of favors, but Wandy had to ask for plenty of favors because he seemed unable to throw his 89 mph fastball below the waist to anybody (note: only a minor exaggeration). He dug the Pirates a big enough hole that Clint Hurdle didn’t even bat an eye in pinch hitting for him during a big fourth inning rally that should’ve been more than enough to win the game for the Pirates. Watson and Grilli blew the lead late in the game, but with a decent start it would’ve been a much bigger lead.
This is the second night in a row in which the Pirates have gotten a subpar outing from their starter, and it’s not a coincidence that this was the second straight winnable game that they lost. I don’t think there’s much else that needs to be said, really: either the Pirates will start getting good starts from someone other than Edinson Volquez, or they’re going to lose a bunch of games in the next few weeks.
Ike Davis had two opposite field hits, though. That was nice.