The Pittsburgh Pirates’ losing streak reached five games Saturday night, thanks in large part to a throwing error by first baseman Michael Chavis, as they lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings at PNC Park.
With the score tied 1-1 at the start of the 10th inning, Matt Vierling hit a ground ball to Chavis, who attempted to throw out Didi Gregorius, the Manfred Man, at third base. However, the throw was wild, and Gregorius scored the go-ahead run on the play.
Things didn’t get any better in the bottom of the 10th when Oneil Cruz, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Manfred Man, was picked off second base for the first out. Bligh Madris and Cal Mitchell both grounded out to end it.
Yerry De Los Santos (0-3), who came on to start the 10th, took the loss.
Every loss during the Pirates’ skid has been by one run.
Pirates starter Mitch Keller once again showed what’s old is new again. Keller allowed only one run in six innings but took a no-decision.
That continued Keller’s run of strong pitching over the last two months.
Keller is 2-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 11 starts since being moved back into the rotation May 31 following a brief demotion to the bullpen. The return to starting also coincided with Keller adding a sinker to his pitch arsenal.
The Pittsburgh Pirates relied on a pitching staff of sinker ballers to end a string of 20 consecutive losing seasons and make three consecutive postseason appearances from 2013-15 under then-pitching coach Ray Searage.
However, hitters began adjusting to the sinkers, and high fastballs became the rage for pitchers. The Pirates couldn’t keep up and haven’t been back to the postseason since then.
Now, the sinker is making a comeback, and Keller is riding the wave. Before being sent to the bullpen, he was 0-5 with a 6.61 ERA in seven starts.
The Phillies’ lone run off Keller came on J.T. Realmuto’s solo homer in the sixth inning, a line drive into the front row of the right field stands.
Mitchell matched the solo shot in the seventh off left-hander Jose Alvarado to make it a 1-1 game. It was the rookie’s fourth homer of the season.
Phillies lefty Ranger Suarez retired the first nine Pirates batters before they loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth inning. However, the rally ended when Diego Castillo flied out.
The Pirates let another good scoring opportunity slip away in the sixth after Realmuto had put the Phillies ahead in the top of the inning. Kevin Newman was on third base with one out but was thrown out at home when K’Bryan Hayes hit a grounder to the third baseman.
The Pirates were held to four hits on manager Derek Shelton’s 52nd birthday, and Chavis had two of them.
The Pirates have had 61 of their 101 games decided by two runs or less this season.
It was also the second sellout of the season with a crowd of 38,871. It was the Pirates’ largest home attendance since opening day in 2016.
The four-game series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with JT Brubaker (2-8, 3.96) pitching for the Pirates against Aaron Nola (6-8, 3.32). Brubaker is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last six starts since June 20.