Like Route 51, Pittsburgh’s offense was shut down in every direction Wednesday night.
The only sign of traffic was that of Colorado’s baserunners, who managed to reach home just enough to clip the Pirates 5-1 at a dampened PNC Park.
German Marquez and a handful of quality relief appearances kept the Bucs at bay, with the starter Marquez holding down five innings, giving up four hits on one earned run.
The Pirates went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, while stranding eight. The offense had just one extra base hit, an Adam Frazier double.
“Five, six and seven, we’re out there,” said Clint Hurdle. “If we get one of those innings to click it’s a different game. If we get all three of those innings to click it’s a different game. We didn’t get any of those innings to click.”
The Pirates went bust on their best opportunity in the seventh inning when, with bases loaded, and one out, Frazier (1-for-4) flew out to shallow right, and Josh Harrison (1-for-4) went down swinging, leaving the inning clean for Colorado.
Chad Kuhl, who hasn’t won a decision since his first outing of the year (April 8), was pegged with the loss, surrendering three earned runs on four hits in five innings of work. Kuhl was yanked early for Jose Osuna in the fifth with runners on first and second, and the Bucs down three.
“I would like to see him keep pitching provided the opportunity,” said Clint Hurdle of the situation. “As far as the battle, and the fight, it was there.”
“It just feels like my spot is up every fifth inning,” said a irritated Kuhl, who is now carrying a 5.61 ERA on the year. “It’s frustrating to not go further than five but, you know, it is what it is.”
Benches cleared in the fifth inning after Francisco Cervelli (1-for-3), who made his return to the lineup in over a week’s time, was pelted with a first-pitch fastball, though the scuffle was more like an unconventional meeting of both teams at home plate.
“After I got hit, I look at Marquez and that’s it,” said Cervelli of the origin of the fracas. “I was about to take care of my gear, but (catcher Tony) Wolters started saying a lot of things, and I didn’t like it. That’s it.”
When asked what exactly Wolters uttered to stir the pot, Cervelli said, “I cannot tell you. It is between me and him.”
The Rockies’ Raimel Tapia slugged a career-high 4-for-4, accounting for three runs, while Trevor Story went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Polanco’s Still Struggling
The right fielder left a lot to be desired at the plate Wednesday night, going 0-for-4, striking out once and stranding two from the three-hole. Polanco is batting .244, and is hitting dismal 7-for-45 with two RBIs in the month of June and no extra base hits.
Silver Lining Hudson
Perhaps forgotten in an otherwise clunker of a game was another strong relief appearance by Daniel Hudson, who relieved Edgar Santana with runners on the corners with one out, stranding both, forcing Charlie Blackmon to pop out, then striking out DJ LeMahieu to retire the side.
Hudson has given up just two hits and one run in 5.1 innings of work in the month of June.
“He’s nailing his deliveries. We worked on some timing issues as far as releasing the ball. We’ve shortened the slide step, an abbreviated, really wind up. We’re trying to get him off and underway about 1.3 seconds release time. It’s worked extremely well. Today, making good pitches in a tough situation. He came in and got two big hitters out. That’s what we’ve seen for most of the month.”
After the Moneyline
The Pirates went under for the third time in four games as both clubs failed to eclipse the nine-run total.
Chad Kuhl and the Pirates have been underdogs in his last four outings, which included the +105-underdog status taken on Wednesday night.
The Pirates will take the day off Thursday, and return to the diamond Friday for a weekend homestand against the Chicago Cubs. Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.13) will take on Eddie Butler (3-2, 4.03) for the Game 1. First pitch is set for 7:05.