This week’s series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays featured, at the time, the teams with the best two records in Major League Baseball.
For some, this series was seen as a measuring stick for the Bucs, to see if they could compete with the better teams in the league. Unfortunately, based on this series, they were not up to the challenge. The Pirates were swept out of Tampa, capped off by a 3-2 loss to the Rays on Thursday afternoon.
Zach Eflin was dominant on the mound for Tampa this afternoon, giving up three hits and striking out ten batters in his seven innings on the mound. He lowered his ERA to 2.25 while improving to 4-0 on the season. Vince Velasquez suffered his third loss of the season (4-3), giving up one run on two hits in his three innings of work.
Tampa took the lead early on Velasquez and the Bucs. After threatening to score in the first inning but coming up short, the Rays got on the board in the second on a solo homerun by Taylor Walls.
Velasquez left the game after three innings with right elbow discomfort. He was replaced by Jose Hernandez, who gave up a solo homerun to Randy Arozarena, his eighth of the season, to make it a 2-0 Rays’ lead.
The Rays added another fun in the bottom of the eighth inning. At the time, it appeared to be a run they wouldn’t need, but it ended up being the game winner. Yandy Diaz hit a solo homerun, his eighth of the season, to right center field to increase the lead to 3-0.
The Pirates did find a way to bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth inning. Tucupita Marcano was hit by a pitch and Bryan Reynolds reached on an ground ball to second base, putting runners on first and second with one out. Andrew McCutchen struck out, but Carlos Santana’s two run double cut the lead to a single run at 3-2. After Jack Suwinski walked to put runners on first and second with two outs, Connor Joe struck out to end the game.
All around, this was a dreadful series for the Pirates. Yes, they gave up a total of 18 runs in three games, but they also only scored a total of four runs across the series as well. The productivity on all facets, from the pitching to the fielding to the hitting, was not good enough to win a game. Keeping that in mind, along with the fact of the high-quality team they were playing, and it’s no surprise that the Bucs were swept this week.
The Bucs will look to snap their four-game losing streak when they return home to PNC Park for a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, beginning on Friday evening. Chris Bassit will be on the mound for Toronto against Rich Hill for Pittsburgh.
Record vs. Rays: 0-3
Record vs. American League: 6-6
Record on the Road: 11-8
Overall Record: 20-12
Let’s Go Bucs!