For the second straight game, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter struggled against the Chicago White Sox. On Saturday, however, unlike Friday, the Bucs’ offense couldn’t do enough to overcome the pitching woes. The White Sox evened the series with an 11-5 victory at PNC Park.
Just like Rich Hill did the day before, Vince Velasquez struggled mightily on Saturday, giving up five runs on six hits with four walks in 2.2 innings of work. The bullpen didn’t fair much better, as three of the four relievers gave up runs as well. As for Velasquez, this has certainly not been the start to the season he or the Pirates had hoped for, with an 0-2 record and a 9.82 ERA through two starts.
Mike Clevinger wasn’t exactly unhittable for Chicago, but he was effective enough to earn his second victory of the season (2-0). He gave up four runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work, while the bullpen was effective, holding the Bucs’ hitters in check throughout the game’s final innings.
The Pirates scored the game’s first run on a single by Carlos Santana, scoring Andrew McCutchen. The lead was short-lived, though, as the White Sox answered immediately in the second inning. A single by Oscar Colas scored a run to tie the game, and in the third, a single by Andrew Benintendi gave Chicago a one-run lead. After a wild pitch by Velasquez allowed a second run to score in the inning, Yasmani Grandal singled home a pair of runs to make it 5-1.
Bryan Reynolds’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third cut the lead to 5-2, but once again, Chicago responded with a sacrifice fly by Elvis Andrus to make it a four-run lead. McCutchen’s sacrifice fly in the fifth cut it to 6-3, and another RBI single by Santana scored Reynolds to make it 6-4.
The White Sox blew the game wide open with five runs in the seventh inning. RBI singles by Colas, Andrus, and Tim Anderson made it 9-4, and a two run single by Luis Robert Jr. completed the scoring, giving Chicago a commanding 11-4 lead.
Despite a solo homerun by McCutchen (1) in the ninth, the White Sox held on for a comfortable victory.
This was a disappointing response by this Pirates’ team after a huge win in their home opener on Friday. Further, what has already emerged as a worrisome trait, and is something that was feared before the season began, is the ineffectiveness of the starting pitching staff as a whole. As has been the case in the history of baseball, you only go as far as your starting pitching can take you. The past two days have indicated that the Bucs’ starters need to be much better if they wish to contend as the season progresses.
The White Sox and Pirates will meet back up at PNC Park on Sunday in the rubber match of this weekend’s series. Michael Kopech will take the mound for Chicago against Johan Oviedo for Pittsburgh.
Record vs. White Sox: 1-1
Record vs. American League: 4-1
Record at Home: 1-1
Overall Record: 5-3
Let’s Go Bucs!