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The Pittsburgh Pirates three-game series in Milwaukee means little in the National League Central- Scoring, with the Brewers in first place with 7 1/2 games.
But it’s important for the pirates who put in three starting mugs – Bryse Wilson on Monday evening, Max Kranick on Tuesday and Steven Brault on Wednesday – who didn’t start the season in Pittsburgh.
After Wilson well beaten a 6-2 loss to the Brewers at American Family Field in five innings, manager Derek Shelton refused to explain this as a major change in his rotation but gave other pitchers after a long summer with losses, trades and injuries. The Pirates (40-66) have lost 10 of their last 14 games and 10 of 11 to the Brewers.
« We’ve been saying all along that there will be chances for different guys, » Shelton said. « I don’t know if it’s the changing of the guard, but rather to give the boys a chance. »
Wilson, acquired by the Atlanta Braves in dealings with Richard Rodriguez last week, opened the series by throwing five innings while allowing only one run and two infield singles. It was an impressive debut for Wilson, facing a team that had averaged six runs per game since the All-Star break.
« Nice first outing for Bryse, » said Shelton. “That was good to see. Really good first impression for us. »
Before the game, Shelton said he was eager to see Wilson play in a Pirates uniform rather than relying on videos from his Braves outings. He was even better personally, Shelton said.
« I actually thought that fastball would be played better, » he said. “Sometimes when you see it on video, you don’t know what the action will be. The two-man really played and was very effective. »
Wilson received little help from his teammates, particularly from the bullpen, aside from midfielder Bryan Reynolds’ two outstanding catches that rob Tyrone Taylor of the strike.
With Phillip Evans (.205) hitting the leadoff for the first time this season, the Pirates only managed four hits against starter Eric Lauer and two relief pitchers through eight innings.
John Axford, 38, who hadn’t pitched since 2018, opened ninth place for the Brewers (64-43) and gave up a run after pitching Reynolds, causing singles from Jacob Stallings and Gregory Polanco and an RBI walk to the pinch punch Ben Gamel.
Brad Boxberger was called in to suppress the rally, but he went to Wilmer Difo to force another run. Eventually the game ended when Evans struck and looked.
Wilson threw 74 pitches without a strikeout – 20 more than his last outing for the Braves – and forced soft contact from Brewers-hitters during several at-bats.
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but they made it with two infield singles and a victim flight.
Lorenzo Cain opened the inning with a slow roller to third base, which turned into a single. After Cain stole second base, Lauer placed a perfect bunt on third base line. Wilson called it one of the best bunts he’s ever seen. First baseman John Nogowski used it but slipped on the lawn and had no game.
With runners at the corners, Kolton Wong’s sacrificial fly scored Cain. Then Willy Adames appeared to jump for the horn in an inning-ending double game, but second baseman Rodolfo Castro never touched base with the ball in his glove. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged and the call was reversed.
Nonetheless, Wilson got the final out when Omar Narvaez flew into left field to officially end the inning.
When asked to rate his overall outing, Wilson said he was happy with his move and the two-seam fastball that right-handed people retracted. More specifically, it also helped promote a team that believed in him. He’s been shuttling back and forth between Atlanta and the Minors regularly with the Braves, but the Pirates plan to keep him on the rotation.
« When you’re traded in, the team obviously wants you so you can come out and make a great first impression, » he said. « There were a bit of butterflies there, but at the end of the day I just wanted to go out and throw as much as I can. »
The Brewers scored two runs in their sixth game against Reliever Kyle Keller, the first on Eduardo Escobar’s RBI triple-to-right field. Narvaez, who had walked, scored from first base without the Pirates playing against him after Polanco slowly took the ball out of the corner.
Keller loaded the bases when he pitched Avisail Garcia and Rowdy Tellez purposely left after Garcia finished second. Taylor forced Keller to throw nine pitches and eventually draw an RBI walk. Cain flew into midfield, but it took Keller 33 pitches to survive the inning.
Nick Mears, the next Pirates Relief pitcher, didn’t finish seventh but stayed in the game after twisting his ankle trying to use Wong’s line drive that hit him in the thigh. Mears then hung up on four more thugs, but he walked two and handed a three-run homer to Escobar to give the Brewers a 6-0 lead.
Shea Spitzbarth, who grew up in Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day, relieved Mears. He gave up a hit and walk, but no further damage.
« Not the easiest place to warm up from an injury on the hill, » Shelton said. « He settled down and did a good job. »
Jerry DiPaola is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.
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