Pirates yield 10-run inning in 9th straight loss

Moran's grand slam not enough to overcome rocky second frame

July 30th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Just when it seemed as if the Pirates’ second-half skid couldn’t get any worse, the second inning of Monday night’s game at Great American Ball Park happened.

Every player in the Reds’ lineup touched home plate as the Pirates surrendered 10 runs in one inning for the first time in nearly a decade. By the time it was over, Pittsburgh’s one-run lead was a distant memory and the Bucs were well on their way to an 11-6 loss, their ninth straight defeat and their 15th in 17 games since the All-Star break.

Closing in on the Trade Deadline, the Pirates are mired in their longest losing streak since they dropped 10 in a row from July 29-Aug. 7, 2011. They are 14 games under .500 for the first time since they were 73-87 on Sept. 29, 2017.

“It’s hard right now. There’s no doubt about it,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve been challenged all across the board. We’ve been challenged defensively. We’ve been challenged with our offense and pitching at times. It’s up to us to get it turned around. We have an opportunity tomorrow. We didn’t get it done today.”

Right-hander , who was told early Monday afternoon he’d be making his first Major League start in place of the just-traded Jordan Lyles, worked a clean first inning after being staked to a lead by 's solo home run. He ran into all kinds of trouble in the second.

“I felt ready,” McRae said. “It was just a matter of not executing pitches when I needed to.”

McRae gave up five hits and walked two, including opposing starter Sonny Gray, while only recording one out before he exited with the bases loaded and the Pirates down by three. In came Montana DuRapau, who immediately issued a run-scoring walk.

The Pirates had a chance to get out of the inning, as Josh VanMeter hit a potential double-play grounder to first baseman Josh Bell. But Bell delivered an off-target throw to the plate, another run scored, the inning continued and Jose Iglesias made Pittsburgh pay by slugging a grand slam to right-center.

It was the first time the Pirates allowed 10 runs in one inning since they surrendered 13 in the fourth frame of a 15-6 loss to the D-backs on April 11, 2010. In that inning, opposing starter Edwin Jackson hit a single and a home run, and the Pirates used three pitchers: Daniel McCutchen, Hayden Penn and Jack Taschner.

After Bryan Reynolds homered in the fifth, Jose Osuna walked and Elias Diaz ripped a double to center. Osuna saw third-base coach Joey Cora’s stop sign late and ran right through it, only to be thrown out at the plate. Colin Moran kept it competitive by launching his third career grand slam -- and just his second career homer off a left-handed pitcher -- against Wandy Peralta in the sixth.

“It’s not fun when you go down early, but you have to try to make the best of it, try to scrap away and see if you can give yourself a shot,” Moran said. “We gave ourselves a shot, at least, at the end.”

The Pirates began turning the page toward 2020 before Monday’s game by trading Lyles to the Brewers for Double-A relief prospect Cody Ponce. The question now, given the extent of this slide into last place in the National League Central, is how far they’re willing to go leading up to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

Will they mostly keep their group intact, shipping out only impending free agents like Lyles, or will this descent make them consider a more dramatic overhaul of the roster?

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Pirates’ trade talks with the Dodgers are “bogged down” because Pittsburgh’s front office is insisting that Triple-A infielder Gavin Lux must be included in any potential deal for controllable closer Felipe Vazquez. The Dodgers have every right to make the 21-year-old Lux untouchable, of course, as he is their top prospect and baseball’s No. 10 prospect overall, according to MLB Pipeline.

Just the same, the Pirates have every right to hold out for an overwhelming return if someone asks for their All-Star closer. As poorly as they’ve played lately, they believe days better than Monday are ahead -- and they want Vazquez to be a part of them.

“If we were not intending to be a competitive club next year, then the right move would absolutely be to look to explore trades for Felipe,” general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday during his radio show on KDKA-FM. “Our mindset is we like this young core. We like the additions we have coming from the Minor Leagues. I believe we can add to it this offseason appropriately, and Felipe will play a key role in that.

“We intend to be a competitive club, but at the same time, we’ll always be open to ways to make this organization, and ideally this next Major League team, better.”