D-backs offense comes out flat in 2nd straight loss to Pirates

Aug 24, 2021, 7:39 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly, right, awaits the throw as Pittsburgh Pirates' Ke'Bryan ...

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly, right, awaits the throw as Pittsburgh Pirates' Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) scores on a sacrifice fly by Bryan Reynolds during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The two starting pitchers in Pittsburgh on Tuesday could not have their seasons trending in more different directions entering the night.

Pirates right-hander J.T. Brubaker had massively struggled in his last three outings, allowing a combined 20 earned runs and seven home runs. His ERA of 5.49 had bumped over a point-and-a-half since he managed a decent 3.82 mark through 14 starts.

For D-backs lefty Madison Bumgarner, you’d have to triple the number of his last appearances (nine) to reach those earned run and homer totals. He had a 1.93 ERA in his seven starts following a stint on the injured list.

And yet, it was the Pirates who got the better of Bumgarner and the D-backs who couldn’t muster up a run off Brubaker. That resulted in a 4-2 loss for Arizona.

This was by no means a masterpiece thrown by Brubaker, who gave up four hits, three walks and only lasted 5.0 innings. But he didn’t allow a run, forcing the D-backs (42-85) to leave those seven runners on base, including five that were in scoring position.

“Today I felt like we left a few chips on the table,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “We had some opportunities to play some downhill baseball and I think the outcome would have been totally different had we gotten out to an early lead.”

Brubaker got his first win in 14 outings, with that last victory coming nearly three months prior on May 24.

For Bumgarner, there were enough consistent mistakes to bite him. He let a baserunner on in five straight innings after starting the game with a clean 1-2-3.

A solo homer in the bottom of the third inning by Pirates second baseman Michael Chais was followed by a Ke’Bryan Hayes triple and he would later score. One inning later, Pittsburgh outfielder Anthony Alford hit a two-run shot off Bumgarner, making it 4-0 Pirates.

Bumgarner’s walks were the biggest sign he was off. The 32-year-old allowed three free bases after a total of just five in his last seven games. On top of those three walks, one of which was intentional, Bumgarner gave up six hits and four earned runs across 6.0 innings.

With that being said, the exciting stuff from the last two months appeared to still be there, as Bumgarner eased through sections of the game. In his 18 recorded outs, Bumgarner got ahead with a first-pitch strike in 15 of those at-bats.

He shared a similar sentiment that he wasn’t all that far off from a strong night.

“I don’t feel like it was quite as bad as the line looks,” Bumgarner said. “It definitely wasn’t sharp, but if I could just have a few things to do over it very easily could have been another good one just like the last handful.”

After no runs in the sixth or seventh innings, D-backs pinch-hitter Ketel Marte in the eighth mashed a fastball from Pirates left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve 435 feet to left field that brought home Arizona’s first two runs of the game.

The switch-hitting Marte has been hammering lefties all year, entering play with an absurd .453 batting average and 1.313 OPS in 70 plate appearances off them, per Baseball-Reference. Despite that 71st plate appearance being far less than his 162 against right-handers, Marte now has 18 RBI off lefties compared to 14 produced via righties.

Even with that little jolt for the D-backs, Pirates reliever Chris Statton got three straight outs in the ninth inning to wrap the game up.

The two losses thus far against the lowly Pirates (46-80) halt the momentum Arizona created off a 6-1 homestand at Chase Field. Since returning to the road, the D-backs have now dropped four of their last five games.

Lovullo admitted after Tuesday’s loss that his frustration is at an all-time high.

“I felt like after we left Arizona that we were poised and ready to come on the road and do some damage and we haven’t,” Lovullo said.

The D-backs will have the series finale in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM and 98.7 FM HD-2.

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