It was a pathetic performance by the Pittsburgh Pirates after the sixth inning.
Before that, Chris Archer and Kyle Crick dominated the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup, but after that – between a bullpen that used all eight pitchers available and a defense that made errors and mistakes – it cost the Pirates what should’ve been an easy win.
Mistakes by Colin Moran, Erik Gonzalez and – most surprisingly – Francisco Cervelli cost the Pirates some runs. Moran had two miscues of the ball with an error and missed ball. Gonzalez missed an easy groundball out and then in the same inning almost threw the ball away from Adam Frazier that should’ve been an easy double play.
The worst offender was Cervelli, who had a few missed plays. Two in particular, the first in the top of the ninth when he didn’t get in proper position to block a bouncing ball from Felipe Vazquez that allowed a runner to move up to second, which then turned into the tying run when a double was hit, and then to finish the game he got crossed up on a Nick Kingham pitch that hit the umpire, but rolled enough away to allow the winning run to score.
Archer deserved much better than this after going five innings, having eight strikeouts, allowing two hits with three walks.
Patience is a Virtue: The Pirates have been a very patient team through the first three games of the season. In both games in Cincinnati they had seven walks in each game, with an additional eight walks today.
In the first home game of the season, that patience paid off in the bottom of the first inning when Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright walked three batters (Adam Frazier, Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli) and all scored. Frazier scored on a groundball out by Josh Bell. Marte and Cervelli scored on a double by Moran. Moran added a home run later to finish with three RBIs on the day.
Erik Gonzalez: Let the overreacting begin on small sample sizes, but Gonzalez has been doing what many fans expected at the plate and that’s not a good thing. Through 13 at bats he’s hitting .154 and made a horrible base running mistake in the bottom of fourth when he was thrown out trying to get to third on a sacrifice bunt by Archer. He “won” the starting job over Kevin Newman to start the year, but hopefully Newman will see some time there soon… like Wednesday.
Wainwright’s Age is Showing: After having an injury riddled 2018 season where he only made five starts and actually thought about retiring, Wainwright was brought back due to the lack of depth in the Cardinals rotation on a 1-year, $2 million deal. He didn’t last very long with the number four playing a factor. He went four innings, giving up four runs with four walks and only three strikeouts.
In a division that will be competitive from the top to the bottom, the rotation for the Cardinals is going to be something to keep an eye on. Wainwright is their fifth starter with Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson and Michael Wacha ahead him.
Mikolas and Flaherty are coming off really solid 2018 seasons, but Hudson didn’t make a start last season, and Wacha only made 15 starts before missing the rest of the season with an injury. They do have Alex Reyes back and he could contribute starts from the bullpen as well, but the Cardinals are really going to need Hudson, Wacha and Wainwright to contribute if they’re going to keep pace with the rest of the division.
Next Up: The Pirates will finish this two-game series at home on Wednesday night with Jameson Taillon making his second start against Mikolas, who is making his second start of the season as well.