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Retaliatory pitch comes back to haunt Bucs

June 11, 2018

PHOENIX -- Joe Musgrove's first pitch in the seventh inning came with a purpose. Everyone inside Chase Field knew it was coming after seeing Josh Harrison plunked in the shoulder and Austin Meadows knocked down by a pitch near his head a half-inning earlier. Sure enough, Musgrove's 95-mph fastball caught

PHOENIX -- Joe Musgrove's first pitch in the seventh inning came with a purpose. Everyone inside Chase Field knew it was coming after seeing Josh Harrison plunked in the shoulder and Austin Meadows knocked down by a pitch near his head a half-inning earlier. Sure enough, Musgrove's 95-mph fastball caught Chris Owings in the rear end.
The Pirates were pleased to see Musgrove protect his teammates -- specifically Harrison, a frequent target who left Monday's game with a bruised left shoulder blade. But they could not protect a five-run lead. The Bucs unraveled in the seventh and eighth innings as the D-backs scored nine unanswered runs to beat Pittsburgh, 9-5, on Monday night.

Nine outs away from an impressive victory, the Pirates were instead dealt their 17th loss in their last 23 games.
"You have a five-run lead going into the seventh, you're pretty confident, and things start falling apart like that," Musgrove said. "It seems like that's the way the ball's going right now for us. We're just not really winning the games we should win. It's one of those things we've just got to fight through."
The D-backs' rally began with Musgrove's retaliatory plunking, but nobody in the Pirates' clubhouse felt that moment changed the game. There were plenty of other pitches and plays to lament. More than anything else, Musgrove regretted his wild pitch to Nick Ahmed, the next batter, which allowed Owings to take second base and score when Ahmed singled to left.

"That wasn't the turning point of the game, in my eyes. You can't control what other people are going to think," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Musgrove's HBP. "There was a ton of pitches to make after that where we weren't able to make them."
Third baseman David Freese rushed a throw to first base, allowing reliever Braden Shipley -- who hit Harrison minutes earlier -- to reach on the throwing error and bringing an end to Musgrove's night. In came reliever Edgar Santana, perhaps the Pirates' most consistent reliever this season. Santana immediately allowed one inherited runner to score on a single by Daniel Descalso. Santana fell behind Jake Lamb with one out and served up a game-tying, three-run homer to left field.

In the home clubhouse at Chase Field, Owings said the hit-by-pitch "sparked" the D-backs after Musgrove held them scoreless for six efficient innings. That momentum followed Arizona into the eighth inning, when the Pirates left the bases loaded, and the D-backs stormed ahead against relievers Kyle Crick and Dovydas Neverauskas.
Ketel Marte singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch by Crick to give the D-backs a one-run lead. Neverauskas came on in relief of Crick and served up the biggest hit of the inning, Descalso's two-run triple to right-center, then uncorked another wild pitch that allowed Descalso to score.

"If it was retaliation, it certainly cost their pitcher a couple of runs and might have cost them a win," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo added. "We were laying flat, dormant, being dominated by him. I felt like it gave our dugout a lot of energy."
But when Harrison was hit in the left shoulder by a fastball from Shipley, who also threw a pitch near Meadows' head in the seventh, Musgrove felt someone needed to retaliate.

"It's nothing more than just protecting your teammates," Musgrove said. "It's baseball. That's how the game is played. You're willing to go out and hit somebody, you've got to be willing to deal with might come with that, putting the leadoff runner on base, especially late in the game like that. You don't want to start a rally."
But the D-backs took advantage of the opportunity, negating the Pirates' efforts against lefty starter Patrick Corbin and yet another dominant start by Musgrove. What happened after that quickly dashed what might have been Pittsburgh's first winning streak in more than three weeks.

"We've got to come in ready to play every day with the same attitude and be able to flush the stuff that happened the day before and get back to work," Musgrove said. "We're going to come out of this thing soon. It's just one of those things we've got to battle through."
Santana entered the game with two on and nobody out in the seventh, a situation he's grown accustomed to this season as the Pirates' specialist with runners on base. The right-hander gave up one run on Descalso's single but recovered to strike out Paul Goldschmidt for the first out. He then fell behind Lamb, throwing two sliders out of the strike zone.
Looking to regain leverage in the count, Santana threw a 95-mph fastball that found the middle of the plate and the barrel of Lamb's bat. Lamb crushed a three-run homer to left field, tying the game.
"I missed a couple pitches," Santana said. "When you get behind in the count, they have better opportunities to hit the ball."
The Pirates haven't won consecutive games since May 15-17, when they swept a two-game series against the White Sox then beat the Padres at PNC Park. On Tuesday, they will look for a win to avoid their eighth straight series defeat.
In the end, Musgrove was charged with three runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out six in six innings. He became the eighth pitcher in team history to throw five-plus innings, allow three or fewer earned runs and record five strikeouts in each of his first four starts of a season; the last Pittsburgh pitchers to do it were Gerrit Cole (five starts) and Francisco Liriano (four) in 2015.
"It felt good. You never want anybody to get hurt, but our livelihood, we only play this game for so long. It was what it was. It was low. [Shipley] missed up on me, missed up on Meadows. It wasn't intentional, but you throw too hard to be throwing it high at the head. You never want anybody to get hurt."-- Harrison, on seeing Musgrove retaliate following his injury
Right-hander Trevor Williams, an Arizona State alum who lives in the Phoenix area, will try to get back on track Tuesday night at Chase Field after posting an 8.50 ERA and .903 opponents' OPS over his last four starts. Resurgent righty Clay Buchholz will start for the D-backs at 9:40 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.