SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. – Mistakes are part of the game of baseball.
When you’re playing the best team in baseball, mistakes will cost you the game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 8-1 on Wednesday night, with the game getting out of hand after a mistake-filled third inning.
After two ground outs to start the third, Mitch Keller allowed a single to center field. This was followed by a single by Wander Franco, which went past a diving Ji-Hwan Bae, putting runners at first and third.
You can debate whether Bae had a shot at that play, which was hard hit and looked like it ate him up.
You can’t debate the next play by Rodolfo Castro. Keller got an easy grounder to shortstop, which should have ended the inning. Instead, Castro went for the charging grab with the glove, and missed the scoop, allowing Harold Ramirez to reach first, and allowing the tying run to score.
In the very next at-bat, Brandon Lowe hit a line drive to center field, which was misplayed by Bryan Reynolds. The Pirates have had issues in the last two games reading fly balls in The Trop. In this case, Reynolds got caught in no-man’s land, allowing the ball to skip past him. That allowed Lowe to reach second, and one additional run to score on the play.
The mistakes returned in the fifth inning. Francisco Meija led off with a fly ball down the right field line, which Miguel Andujar watched drop in front of him for a double.
You can debate whether Andujar could have reached the ball, which it looked like he just lost in the roof.
You can’t debate what happened two plays later with Ji-Hwan Bae. With the runner at third, Bae charged in for a grounder to the right of the mound. He attempted to go home with a throw, but fumbled the transition out of his glove. After another fumble, he turned to get the out at first, but fired wide, sending the ball into the Tampa bullpen. The batter, Franco, ended up on third, and scored on a Ramirez single.
Mitch Keller had fantastic stuff that was wasted tonight. The right-hander went five innings, allowing five runs, with only one earned. He allowed five hits and one walk, striking out eight.
“Mitch threw the ball well,” said Shelton after the game. “I mean, he had good stuff. But you cannot give a team like that extra outs. And we gave them extra outs, which cost Mitch to extra pitches. I mean, we just didn’t catch the ball. And we played sloppy, and we have to play better than that.”
Without the errors from Castro and Bae, the Pirates might have handed a 1-1 tie to the bullpen.
Instead, the Rays were able to tee off on the Pirates’ bullpen. Josh Lowe crushed a 455-foot home run to right field off Jose Hernandez in the sixth inning. Franco launched a solo homer 425 feet against Cody Bolton in the seventh. Luke Raley doubled off the left field wall in the eighth, and Connor Joe misplayed the bounce, allowing Jose Siri to score from first.
The lone Pirates offense on the night came from a solo home run by Andrew McCutchen in the top of the third inning. McCutchen was greeted by a loud section of cheering Pirates fans as they went up 1-0 early in the game. Things quickly took a turn in the bottom half of the inning, and the Pirates never recovered, on their way to their second straight loss against the Rays.
Mistakes are part of the game of baseball.
As we’ve seen the last two nights, they will cost you the game against baseball’s best team.
BRING ‘EM NEAR
**It was not a good night for Rodolfo Castro. Aside from the error in the third inning, he went 0-for-3 at the plate against Rays lefty starter Shane McClanahan, striking out all three times. I wrote this week about how Castro has been mashing lefties. He’s done that by swinging at a lot of low and away pitches. Tonight, McClanahan pitched him either high, or inside. Castro picked up his lone hit of the night with a single in the ninth inning.
**Bae’s defense was costly tonight, but his offense was strong. He went 2-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. One of those led to a throwing error, allowing him to reach third base. Bae explained his issues on defense after the game.
“I haven’t had much experience playing the turf, and one thing I realized is that the bounce on the turf is a little bigger than on grass field,” said Bae via interpreter after the game. “I think the biggest mistake I made was that I shouldn’t have thrown to first base, but I did, so I think that was my biggest mistake today.”
**Mitch Keller on the losses against the Rays: “We still have 20 wins on the year, I think we’re doing all right,” said Keller. “I think the more we think about this one, the more it’s going to hurt us. So we’re just gonna move on, flush it, and get on to the next one tomorrow.”
What I liked about Keller tonight was his ability to “flush it” mid inning. Despite the errors, he maintained strong pitching, which hasn’t always been the case in his career.
“I think in the past, maybe I’d let it snowball on me a little bit during the innings,” said Keller. “But just knowing that I made my pitch and really just worried about the execution of my pitches, not letting other things affect me, I think really helped me get through some of those innings.”
**Derek Shelton was ejected from the game for arguing about the pitch clock. You can watch the video of the argument here, which includes a lot from Shelton. You can hear the home plate umpire at the start of this video.
“I had a disagreement with how the clock was being run,” said Shelton after the game. “I had a disagreement with how the clock was being run yesterday. You know, this is an issue that that I discussed with MLB this morning, and I’m sure we’ll probably discuss it tomorrow.”
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
I must have been watching a different game. Reynolds didn’t misplay the ball. It took a high Tropicana artificial turf bounce over his outreached glove. It was over 9′ high…..don’t know what else he’s supposed to do? Maybe a 6’7″ Cruz could have held it to a single.
Andujar? With the angle he had coming towards the foul line, don’t think he lost it in the roof. Just a lack of hustle imo.
Joe didn’t misplay his ball. He went to the wall as he should have. It took a crazy bounce off a railing or something hard and it shot back towards the IF some 90 feet or so. That’s not normal. Usually there’s padding that deadens the richochette.
Agree on both.
Welp, if we were gonna lose these last 2 games, it was a good time todo it. The whole division last yesterday and today……
Is hard not to over react, especially after the way that this series was hyped, but in perspective, the trillion dollar Mets lost a DH to the Tigers yesterday….that’s baseball.
The Brewers are lost 3-2 then 7-1 to the Rox, whom we just destroyed. Will have to see how the do later this afternoon. ….Baseballl…..
pitch clock is stupid
shelton is a slob that needs to tuck in his jersey – stupid hoodie
tempor tantrums from him and hedges are embarrassing
big series of the year and he did not have him men mentally prepared to win
going to be a rough ride the next few weeks against good teams
I agree with the Shelton is a slob comment. I can’t stand his beard.