PITTSBURGH -- Jose Osuna ran back toward the warning track in pursuit of Benjamin Zobrist's fly ball, left his feet and lost sight of it. It seemed the ball shifted on him at the last second, he said, and he couldn't reel in a catchable ball.The ball skidded to Osuna's
PITTSBURGH -- Jose Osuna ran back toward the warning track in pursuit of Benjamin Zobrist's fly ball, left his feet and lost sight of it. It seemed the ball shifted on him at the last second, he said, and he couldn't reel in a catchable ball.
The ball skidded to Osuna's right, toward center field. The bases that had been loaded were now cleared, and a three-run deficit stretched to six. While Osuna was the lone bright spot in Pittsburgh's lineup Monday night at PNC Park, finishing a home run shy of the cycle, his misplay in right field also stood out in the Bucs' 14-3 loss to the Cubs.
"There's one catchable ball out there. The other balls, he got to what he can get to. Usually gloves it when he can get to it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You saw him go up to the plate and swing the bat. I was kind of hoping he'd hit a homer the last at-bat. That would have been nice. Still, he shows the ability to swing the bat."
The Pirates trailed, 4-1, after the first inning. Right-hander Chad Kuhl didn't have his best stuff, so he'd need all the help his defense could offer. Instead, catcher Francisco Cervelli dropped an on-line throw from Osuna in the first inning, couldn't tag out Anthony Rizzo at the plate and allowed two runners to advance; both immediately scored on Jason Heyward's homer.
"It was a bang-bang play," Cervelli said. "When I caught the ball and tried to touch him, he hit me and I lost the ball."
Kuhl loaded the bases in the second, and Osuna couldn't make the play in front of the 21-foot Clemente Wall in right field. According to Statcast™, the play had a 94 percent Catch Probability. It was ruled a double, not an error -- though it would have been Osuna's second in 28 innings with Pittsburgh. It was not the Bucs' first mistake of the night, nor would it be their last.
Two more runs scored that inning, and the Cubs added another in the third, when Cervelli chased a pitch to the backstop and dropped the ball while trying to tag Kyle Schwarber at the plate.
"There's no excuses," Cervelli said. "I dropped it."
With the game well out of reach, Osuna moved to left field. He made a smooth sliding catch in left to record the final out of the ninth. A natural first baseman with experience in both outfield corners, Osuna has been thrust into the Pirates' right-field mix following Starling Marte's 80-game suspension.
But Osuna's greatest strength is his bat, and he showed it again Monday. He finished 3-for-4 with a double and his second triple in six games. While Hurdle wanted to see Osuna hit for the cycle, Osuna said he was simply looking for a pitch over the plate. Instead, he grounded out to pitcher Justin Grimm.
He is 4-for-14 with a trio of extra-base hits and one RBI. His proficiency against left-handed pitching has likely earned him a part-time spot in the Pirates' outfield.
Unless the Pirates find another outfielder outside their organization, Osuna will continue to see time in right field along with the left-handed-hitting John Jaso.
"I think I can hit," Osuna said. "I have to keep working and make an adjustment."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.