The Pirates sent out Steven Brault Sunday afternoon to try and capture that elusive sweep, but it was the Pirates that were dusted off by St. Louis veteran Adam Wainwright in a 3-0 shutout loss at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright he held Pirates hitters to just one hit through four innings, and that one hit was a Gregory Polanco bunt.
Brault struggled in the first inning, throwing 28 pitches and giving up an RBI single to Yadier Molina, which was all the insurance Wainwright needed.
Wainwright channeled an old-school mentality and pitched 106 pitches through eight innings of shut-out ball. The Pirates bats had no answer for his curveball. He had eight whiffs through eight innings with his curve, and he threw it 42 times out of the 106 pitches thrown.
Brault lasted just four innings and was on the hook for the loss. He finished four innings and allowed five hits, one earned run, two walks, and one strikeout.
The Cardinals added runs in the fifth and eighth against the Pittsburgh bullpen, and closer Alex Reyes earned his 28th save of the season with a shut-down ninth.
The Pirates took two of three in the series, but still have not swept a three-game set this season. They will head back home to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game set.
Even Steven: Brault clearly didn’t have his best stuff this afternoon in St. Louis. It seemed like he kept missing on the first base side against righties. Through four innings pitched, Brault had around a 60% strike rate.
However, there is something to be said with Brault’s tenacity and ability to fight through some tough innings. On several occasions, Brault could’ve let an inning blow up, but he didn’t let the moment get too big and even made an unbelievable flip to home plate to snuff out the suicide squeeze.
Steven Brault. Athlete. pic.twitter.com/9mFdqzWV0q
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) August 22, 2021
81 pitches through four innings is, of course, unacceptable, but there is something to be said on keeping your club in the game. The best comparison that comes to mind is Brault was the “game manager” quarterback and didn’t give the game away.
NEWMAN! (Seinfeld’s voice): Kevin Newman continued his extra-base hit tear and got a double in the fifth inning. That double marked Newman’s 12th extra-base hit since the all-star break.
Newman’s bat post-all-star break has been a wonderful surprise. In that time, Newman has had a slash line of .281/.300/.427 with an OPS of .727. Fans are constantly confused by Newman, and if he can stay consistent, maybe there is a future for Newman in Pittsburgh, at least until the prospect wave comes up.
Wainwright equals Kryptonite: Today marked the second straight start against the Pirates where he held the team to no runs scored; in fact, Wainwright’s last game against the Pirates went the full nine innings. Sunday, he managed to go eight. The near 40-year-old pitcher had the stuff today and almost assured the Pirates go 0-9 in sweep opportunities this year.
Tsutsugo in the outfield isn’t pretty: Yoshi Tsutsugo played in left field, and it wasn’t the prettiest of days for the big man. On a few occasions, he either overran a ball or didn’t read the ball soon enough. His day at the plate batting lead-off wasn’t fun either he went 0 for 4 and struck out all four times.
Stat of the Day
The Pirates have failed to convert on sweep opportunities and are the only team in the majors to not have at least one coming into Sunday. They have had eight opportunities and have failed eight times.
Moments that Mattered
- Despite throwing 28 pitches, Brault didn’t crumble in the first inning.
- Brault making a tremendous play to snuff the suicide squeeze keeping it 1-0 deficit in the 4th inning
- Brault picking up Tsutsugo’s after a misread ball in the 4th inning
- Nick Mears and Kyle Keller kept the game close.