The Pirates were back on the road in Milwaukee for the first of three against the Brewers on Monday. The Brewers used a big fourth inning to carry them to a 6-1 victory over the Pirates at American Family Field.
What has been the saving grace of the Pirates let them down in the fourth inning. Two balls that probably should have been caught, one by Bryan Reynolds and one by Cole Tucker, resulted in hits, giving the Brewers two guys in scoring position with one out. Eventually, Kolten Wong drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Then, after walking two of the last three batters in the inning, Derek Shelton opted to keep Zach Thompson in the game to face Christian Yelich, who already walked and doubled against the right-hander. Yelich made the Pirates pay with a grand slam, giving Milwaukee a commanding 6-1 lead.
To this point, the Pirates have played some pretty stellar defense and Shelton’s bullpen management has been effective, but that wasn’t the case in the fourth inning.
The Brewers struck first after a pair of groundballs resulted in a pair of base hits to begin the Brewers first inning, Milwaukee had runners on the corners. Wong then raced home and scored on a wild pitch. Thompson was able to prevent further damage by sitting down the next three via strikeouts.
The Pirates tied the game up at one in the fourth when Diego Castillo hit his first career homerun over the right field fence. It came one pitch after he was hit by a pitch, but the first base umpire said he swung. Castillo picked up two hits in the game.
GO DIEGO GO!!! pic.twitter.com/8ojvSXSUFt
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 19, 2022
That was the only blemish in the game for Eric Lauer, who gave up just the one run over six innings of work.
Daniel Vogelbach picked up a pair of hits in the loss too, both off lefties, raising his season average to .333.
Game two of the three game set will be Tuesday at 7:40. JT Brubaker (0-1, 9.82 ERA) has a tall task ahead of him against reigning National League Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes (0-0, 2.25 ERA)
- Whiff-le Ball: First off, Thompson pitched better than what the line will indicate for a good portion of his outing. The wheels fell off in the fourth, and he probably shouldn’t have been allowed to face Yelich, but he was looking sharp before that. He racked up 15 swings and misses on the night as part of his five-strikeout performance. His cutter, breaking ball and changeup all looked sharp for the most part, and all resulted in some empty swings from Brewers hitters.
- Leave Your Mark: Talk about a first career home run to remember. The pitch that hit Castillo (on a swinging strike) was an 89 mph slider that got him right above the right knee, not a good spot to get hit. It was well worth it for Castillo though who hit his first big league bomb just one pitch later. I can’t speak for how he was feeling, but I’m willing to bet he wasn’t in too much pain circling the bases for the first time in the big leagues. Castillo hit six homers in the spring and now has one that counts on the back of his baseball card. Well worth the inevitable bruise.
- Quite the Contrast: For the second time this season, Dillon Peters came in the game in relief of Thompson. The latter is listed at 6 feet 7 inches and 250 pounds. Peters on the other hand is 5 feet 11 inches and over 50 pounds lighter. Talk about two completely different arm angles and pitch movement coming from opposite-handed pitchers who are drastically different in size. The move seemed to have worked again as Peters worked three scoreless innings.