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Bullpen allows five runs as Bucs' slide continues

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The Pirates’ bullpen continued to struggle Tuesday, blowing another late lead in an 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

After being one of the most consistent reliever cores from mid-April to mid-May, the Pirates’ bullpen has been struggling mightily of late, recording a 6.47 ERA since May 19.

Tuesday was no exception, allowing five earned runs in 3.1 innings, with Edgar Santana taking the loss by allowing three runs in the seventh.

“We’re missing spots big time,” Clint Hurdle said. “The left-handed batters barreled the ball up the entire game.”

The Pirates jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the second inning, highlighted by an Elias Diaz home run. Ben Zobrist went yard in the fifth to bring the Cubs to within one, but Austin Meadows got one of the runs back with a dinger to right in the home half of the inning to make it 4-2.

After a three run seventh and a two run home run allowed by Michael Feliz to Kyle Schwarber to make it 8-4, the Pirates rallied for two in the ninth on four consecutive singles by Adam Frazier, Josh Harrison, Meadows and Starling Marte. Cubs closer Brandon Morrow was able to shut the door there for his twelfth save, getting Josh Bell to strike out and pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson to pop out.

Pirates starter Nick Kingham went 5.2 innings of three run ball, striking out four and allowing two walks and eight hits. Santana blows his first save and loses his first game (2-1). Jon Lester gets the win to improve to 5-2 after allowing four runs in six innings.

Fire from Felipe

While Felipe Vazquez’s performance Sunday and the subsequent news that he had left forearm discomfort may have caused some concern among fans, Tuesday’s outing may have quelled some fears. Vazquez pitched a scoreless ninth, hitting triple digits with his fastball and getting all three batters he faced to groundout.

“He looks healthy, doesn’t he? Go figure,” Hurdle said. “That’s the most velocity we’ve seen out of him all year.”

Hurdle is right. Vazquez threw his first four 100+ MPH pitches of the year in this outing.

High Leverage Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow was used in a different capacity Wednesday, entering in the sixth inning with one out and a runner on first base. While he walked Ben Zobrist with two strikes in the count, he got out of the jam by getting Schwarber to go down swinging.

It was the first time all year Glasnow entered a game in which the Pirates were leading by three runs or fewer.

“He kept them off the plate. We don’t get to [his] spot in the order, he goes back out, pitches another inning,” Hurdle said. “...What I really liked, he came and he let it go. There’s no reservations.”

Glasnow said it only took him 10-12 pitches to get his arm warm in the bullpen, which is faster than it was earlier in the year when he was getting used to his new role.

“That routine of the throwing program where you get hot and then you go out to the game has been a pretty easy adjustment so far,” Glasnow said.

Elias Says

It’s been an eventful series for Diaz after Anthony Rizzo’s controversial slide into home Monday. Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not do much to de-escalate the controversy, implying to reporters before the game that Diaz should not play the position if he does not anticipate a slide like that.

Diaz was asked about the comments after the game. Here is his full statement, translated by interpreter Mike Gonzalez:

“I did not know that he made those comments on me. I understand that he’s protecting his players, but he’s only seeing it from one way, and if that’s the way he wants to speak and judge the play on, then that’s on him.”

Diaz caught Jason Heyward trying to steal in the second inning and framed five pitches outside of Baseball Savant’s strike zone for a strike.

On Deck

Joe Musgrove will make his second start as a Pirate Wednesday in an effort to try to salvage the final game of the series. Musgrove threw seven scoreless innings in his win on May 25 against the Cardinals. He will face Kyle Hendricks (4-3, 3.16) at 7:05 p.m..


1. Meadows is the first lefty to hit a home run against Lester this year (it was his 51st lefty batter faced).

2. Both Diaz and Meadows’ home runs traveled 420 feet, according to Baseball Savant.

3. Glasnow’s ERA this year is 4.82, but his FIP is 2.94.                  

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