It was a battle of the rookie right-handers on Friday night in Atlanta as Roansy Contreras got the ball for the Pirates and Spencer Strider toed the rubber for the Braves. Strider got the better of Contreras and the Pirates, and the Braves defeated the Bucs 4-2.
Strider was untouchable for most of his outing. In his 5.2 innings, the Pirates managed just four singles against him. Strider walked one, struck out eight and held the Bucs scoreless. His upper-90s fastball, that touched triple digits on multiple occasions, was too much for the Bucs to handle as their bats were quiet yet again.
With two outs in the third inning, Dansby Swanson turned on a 3-2 fastball and hit it off the left field foul pole for a two-run homer, putting the Braves ahead 2-0. Atlanta tacked on another run the following inning when Ozzie Albies hit a double off the outfield wall, plating Travis d’Arnaud.
The Braves struck again in in the fifth on another two-out hit with a full count. Matt Olson drove home a run with a single to right field, and the blow knocked Contreras out of the game.
Contreras pitched well at times, but the Braves capitalized on some mistakes from the righty and did some damage. On the night, he gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk in 4.2 innings of work. He sat down seven Braves hitters on strikes.
The Pirates finally got on the board in the eighth inning when Michael Chavis plated Bryan Reynolds on a ground-rule double to left. Chavis collected a pair of hits on the night.
Cal Mitchell had a productive game with the bat. He was responsible for the Pirates second run in the eighth thanks to a sacrifice fly. He also recorded a base hit and drew a walk.
After collecting three hits in Thursday’s game, Reynolds collected two more hits in this one — both infield singles.
The Pirates will look to get back on track on Saturday afternoon. Zach Thompson (3-4, 4.60 ERA) will get the ball for the Bucs opposite former Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton (4-3, 5.63 ERA).
- Logical Remedy: The Pirates offense has been mired in a prolonged slump. They’ve faced some tough pitching but still, they haven’t recorded more than three runs in a game since last Friday against Arizona. Looking at the holes in the lineup, Pirates shortstops this season entered play with a .536 OPS, good for third worst in the Major Leagues. It seems like a logical time to call up top prospect Oneil Cruz, who has been hot at the plate in recent weeks with Triple-A Indianapolis. Cruz could provide an immediate boost to the struggling lineup.
- Swing And A Miss: It may not have been Contreras’ best outing in his young career, but there were some positive takeaways. One of those takeaways is that Contreras recorded a career-high 18 swings and misses against a strong Braves lineup. This comes on the heels of picking up 13 swings and misses in his last outing. On the night, Contreras struck out seven batters, the second most of his career.
- Big Slump For Big Dan: After a strong start to the season at the plate for Daniel Vogelbach, the lefty slugger has been struggling at the plate since May. Since the middle of May, the slump has been especially notable. In 11 games since May 14 entering play, Vogelbach was slashing .121/.216/.182 (4 for 33) with a triple, four walks and 12 strikeouts. Vogelbach went 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first three at-bats before delivering a single in the eighth. The Bucs need him to regain his form from April to help jumpstart the offense.