PITTSBURGH — Throughout the month of April, the Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t have played much better baseball.
The team was doing everything right. They were pitching well, fielding the baseball, wreaking havoc on the basepaths and coming through with timely hitting.
Once the calendar flipped to May, it’s like the Pirates turned into a completely different team. Their struggles were at the forefront in their 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.
Starting on defense, Rich Hill made a costly error on a comebacker which opened the door to a pair of runs for the Rockies — two runs that made a big difference in the outcome of the game.
“I missed it. I just missed it. That shouldn’t happen here. It cost us the game. Once again, it falls on me. Gonna sit on this one for the next five days and get ready for the next one. Frustration is definitely there with that. Very easy ground ball. I should have been able to execute it and didn’t,” Hill said.
While that one play wasn’t the only reason the Pirates lost, the outcome of the game could have looked much different had Hill fielded the ball cleanly.
The Pirates had a string of 11 straight quality starts in April, but Hill wasn’t able to get out of the fourth in this one.
Later in the frame, the Pirates botched a rundown play as Alan Trejo tried to get caught in a rundown to give Austin Wynns a shot at scoring. The Pirates didn’t record an out on the play. Fortunately, the miscue didn’t cost the Pirates a run.
The Pirates had their troubles on the bases for really the duration of the series including Wednesday. Connor Joe was caught stealing twice, though one of those times came on a missed hit and run sign.
“I think it’s a little bit of a bad run. Couple times we took chances with where we were at in the order to see if it would reset and we would get it. Today, the one time, we got a high fastball in a situation where we did not think we we’re going to get a high fastball,” manager Derek Shelton said.
In addition to the Pirates going 0 for 2 in stolen base attempts, Bryan Reynolds was thrown out at home while attempting to advance in the bottom of the sixth on a flyball to center off the bat of Rodolfo Castro.
Reynolds getting thrown out at home capped off a wasted golden opportunity for the Pirates to take the lead in a 3-3 tie.
The Pirates loaded the bases with nobody out, but were unable to push across the go-ahead run. Joe struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch before Castro flew out for the double play.
The Rockies, in turn were able to push across the winning run when they loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the seventh. They went on to win by the 4-3 score which resulted from that inning.
“It’s extremely frustrating. Bases loaded, nobody out (and) we don’t execute. We have to execute in that situation to at least get one run across and that’s what (Colorado) did,” Shelton said.
The Pirates again had an opportunity to come up with a hit in a big spot in the bottom of the ninth. Castro drew a walk, and Ji Hwan Bae gave the Pirates runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth after doubling to left-center.
Josh Palacios pinch hit for catcher Austin Hedges, but went down swinging to end the game.
With the loss, the Pirates fell to just 1-8 in May and have seen their record go from 20-9 to 21-17.
The Pirates will now embark on a five-game road trip beginning in Baltimore on Friday. Maybe there, the Pirates will be able to get back on track.
“(Take it) a day at a time. You have to go out there and play hard. Do the little things. The sun’s gonna come up tomorrow again. Just go out there and play hard again and try for tomorrow again,” Marcano said.