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Bullpen Woes, Polanco Error Cost Pirates in 5-2 Loss to D-backs

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For the second straight night, a Pirates’ starter pitched five scoreless innings, but unlike Tuesday night it wasn’t enough. In his first start back off the injured list, Bryse Wilson shut things down through five innings, but a D-backs rally and a costly error by Gregory Polanco ended the Pirates’ hopes of picking up their first sweep of the season.

Pavin Smith and Carson Kelly each homered to lead Arizona’s comeback as the Diamondbacks defeated the Pirates by a score of 5-2 on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates first series sweep of the season still eludes them, as they haven’t swept a series of three or four games since Aug. 21-23 of last year against Milwaukee. They are now 0-11 when attempting to sweep an opponent this year.   

The night started off on the right foot for the Pirates, especially for Bryse Wilson. He allowed just two singles, walked a pair and picked up a seven strikeouts, tying a career-high. He also punched out that many on Aug. 8 vs. the Reds, his second start with the Pirates, and on September 22 last year vs. the Marlins.

Wilson was in line for his first Pirates’ win once he was pulled form the game, and lowered his ERA to 3.60 since being acquired by the Bucs.

The Pirates first hit of the game didn’t come until Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a double off of the Clemente Wall with one out in the fourth, who then advanced to third on a passed ball. Jacob Stallings got the Pirates on the board first on a sacrifice fly that scored Hayes.

The Pirates tacked on another run in the fifth when Polanco, who doubled, scored on a Michael Chavis seeing-eye single, his second RBI in as many games.

Wilson was lifted after five innings of work, and the D-backs rallied off of the Pirates’ bullpen.

Pavin Smith got Arizona on the board in the sixth with a towering shot off of Nick Mears, who relieved Wilson, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 2-1. A costly error by Polanco in right field allowed Christian Walker to come around to score, tying the game.

The next inning Carson Kelly hit a pinch-hit solo shot in the seventh, giving the D-backs their first lead of the night.

Kyle Keller got the ball in the eighth for Pittsburgh and let up a pair of runs on a two-RBI double from David Peralta.

Anthony Alford led off the ninth with a double, but was stranded as Tyler Clippard picked up the save for Arizona.

The Pirates welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to begin a four-game series at PNC Park starting tomorrow night.

Stat of the Game:

  • Even with Wednesday night’s loss, this series was the first time the Pirates were able to have success vs. the Diamondbacks in quite some time. Not only did the Bucs get swept by Arizona at Chase Field earlier this year, but the Pirates were just 2-17 vs. the D-backs dating back to 2017. With wins on Monday and Tuesday, it marks the first time that Pittsburgh won consecutive games vs. the Diamondbacks since they won three straight on May 13, 14 and 29 in 2017.

Takeaways: 

  • A Rare Reynolds SlumpOver his last 10 games entering Wednesday night’s game, Bryan Reynolds was batting just .229 with a .625 OPS, going 8 for 25 with two doubles and a triple. Even with the struggles, he’s still recorded a hit in eight of those 10 games. A big part of the reason why Reynolds is “slumping” seems to have a lot to do with some bad luck. He struck out just four times in his 39 plate appearances during that stretch (10.3 K%), and had just a .250 BABIP – league average BABIP is around .300.
  • Hayes Has a Hitting Streak: Hayes extended his hitting streak to five games thanks to a fourth inning double. During that stretch, he has recorded a triple, a double, three RBIs and three walks. After going 10 games in a row without an extra-base hit, Hayes now has a pair of extra-base hits in as many games since he had a triple on Tuesday night. Hayes has had his struggles in the power department this year as he has posted just a .125 ISO coming into Wednesday’s game vs. Arizona. Hayes hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 8, and only two since the middle of June.
  • Can Bryse Be Nice?: Wilson turned in his third solid outing since putting on the Pirates’ uniform in four attempts. He’s a former highly-regarded prospect with the Braves as he was ranked #6 in their organization according to MLB Pipeline. However, he never got consistent opportunities with them, pitching just 74.1 innings in parts of four seasons in Atlanta. Wilson, still just 23, has shown flashes, most notably the six-inning gem he pitched against the eventual World Series champion Dodgers in last year’s NLCS. Wilson should get plenty of opportunities in the Bucs’ rotation both the rest of this year and in 2022.
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