Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Brault and Pirates' bats end losing streak

Lefty throws six scoreless innings, and gets two hits himself
@cdenicola13
June 15, 2019

MIAMI -- It can be a challenge to remain even-keeled in the midst of a seven-game skid on the road like the one the Pirates found themselves in before letting off steam in Friday night’s 11-0 win over the Marlins. But Bucs manager Clint Hurdle has a sheet of paper

MIAMI -- It can be a challenge to remain even-keeled in the midst of a seven-game skid on the road like the one the Pirates found themselves in before letting off steam in Friday night’s 11-0 win over the Marlins.

But Bucs manager Clint Hurdle has a sheet of paper lying on his desk inside the visitors' clubhouse at Marlins Park that serves as a reminder of how a job in baseball has the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

“The nature of this business is that it is heartbreaking. Actually that is the best part of it.

“Few disciplines have the highs and the lows -- just the middle, in most people’s jobs/lives.

“The great ones let the heartbreak work for them. They work non-stop to not repeat that empty feeling.

“Be thankful that you have a job that matters enough that it can break your heart.”

"I think it's basically going to be the culture you create in your organization," Hurdle said. "These guys have had losing streaks in the Minor Leagues, we've had an eight-game losing streak already this year. Our effort and our attitude is something we can bring every day and what we're representing: one another, the name on the front of the jersey, the name on the back. You're family. They've been so professional in going about their work and their effort every day."

Box score

A team effort righted the ship, led by left-hander Steven Brault and third baseman Colin Moran.

Brault's outing nearly ended after four batters, when he took a comebacker off his left shin. With Trevor Williams, Jameson Taillon and Jordan Lyles on the injured list, the Pirates could ill afford to lose another member of their rotation.

"You never know until you get out there," Hurdle said of visiting Brault on the mound along with the training staff and infielders. "We've had enough going on that I'm not going to know until I go out there. When I got back, somebody asked where did the ball hit him and I said, 'I didn't ask him where the ball hit him, I asked if he could pitch.' I had my priorities in place. He said he was good to go. For a ball to bounce that far back, though, it catches your attention."

Luckily for Pittsburgh, Brault got right back up to pitch six innings, lowering his ERA to 1.65 over three June starts with Pittsburgh's rotation in flux.

Brault worked out of trouble in each of the first four frames, and he scattered eight hits and fanned six, including Jorge Alfaro with the bases loaded in the third and Garrett Cooper with two men on in the fourth. Both came on four-seam fastballs up in the zone.

"I’ve always pitched off my fastball, so for guys like Alfaro or [Brian] Anderson, big guys with bigger swings, it's harder for them to get the fastball up," said Brault, who had no three-ball counts. "So that's what I try to use against them. No reason to go fastball down, because that gives them a better chance to hit it. So try and stay up there a little bit more and then work off of that."

Brault also helped his own cause with a pair of hits, including a one-out double that sparked a four-run fifth against righty Trevor Richards.

Putting runs on the board hasn't been a problem for the Pirates, who entered Friday with 5.6 runs per game over their past 22 games -- third most in the Majors.

"It's awesome. We've been seeing it happen this entire year. When we were on that losing streak, let's be honest, it was mostly the pitching's fault," Brault said. "We weren't able to get ahead early, we were falling behind, so our guys were always having to come back. They've been scoring runs. Our offense has been incredible. ... I know it’s been a struggle, especially this road trip, but we don't feel like we're falling apart. We just know we have some stuff to work on."

Moran, a first-round Draft pick of the Marlins in 2013, provided more than enough support by going 3-for-5 with his 10th homer of the season and a career-high five RBIs. It marked his first three-hit game since May 26.

Bryan Reynolds added a career-best four hits, as he continues to lead all rookies in batting average (.364) and on-base percentage (.415). Jose Osuna knocked a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth.

"We have a really good clubhouse of guys," Moran said. "We don't get too low, we don't get too high. You're never as bad as you are when you're in a bad streak or as good as you are when you're in a real good streak. It's 162 games. It's crazy long. A lot of droughts can happen. A lot of hot streaks can happen. You have to stay even-keeled and don't let the night before affect you. Come out, and a night like this is good to get us rolling."

Christina De Nicola is a reporter and game producer for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow her on Twitter @CDeNicola13.