History again favors the Pirates as the Dodgers drop the series opener.
The Pirates in the past were 10-3 against the Dodgers and had a record of 115-1 after leading in the eighth inning. Sadly, tonight those numbers only got higher in favor of the Pirates.
Nick Tepesch struggled in his first start as a Dodger. As Alex mentioned in his preview earlier today, Tepesch was signed by the Dodgers about three weeks ago after being released from the Texas Rangers back on June 5. He missed the entire 2015 season due to inflammation in his throwing elbow. Basically in 2013 and 2014 he started a total of 39 games and had an ERA of 4.56. He only went four innings today and allowed five earned runs on seven hits while striking out three batters. Tepesch put together a good first inning. He only saw four batters and allowed one hit. Sadly, he lost it in the second inning when he allowed the Pirates to score four. Each run came off of back to back hits. A double, a few singles and a total of five hits in half an inning would put the Pirates ahead by a score of 4-0.
The Dodgers came back in the third inning to score two thanks to back to back doubles from Corey Seager and Justin Turner. Adrian Gonzalez would ground out for the second out, but allow Turner to advance to third. Then Jameson Taillon made one of the most awkward balks I have ever seen which allowed Turner to score. At this point the Dodgers will take all charity they can get when it comes to scoring runs. Entering the bottom of the third inning, the score sat at 4-2, Pirates.
The Pirates would strike again in the third when Jung Ho Kang led off the inning with a solo shot into left. The Dodgers at this point trailed by three runs again. Both teams had a quiet fourth inning, but the Dodgers would score again in the fifth inning. Dave Roberts had Scott Van Slyke pinch hit for Tepesch and he led off with a walk. Chase Utley doubled to deep center and SVS would score on a Seager single. Utley would cross the plate and score on a sacrifice fly thanks to Adrian Gonzalez. The score was now 5-4, Pirates.
Louis Coleman took over for Tepesch in the fifth inning. The Dodgers have the better bullpen hands down. For the 2015 season, the Dodgers bullpen had an ERA of 3.87 and were ranked 19th among all major league teams. This year, their bullpen has an ERA of 3.00 and are currently in second place among all major league teams, first in the national league. The Pirates are the exact opposite. Last year their bullpen had an ERA of just 2.64 as was ranked first in all of the majors. So far in 2016, the Pirates bullpen has an ERA of 4.32 and are currently ranked in 24th in the majors. However, Coleman allowed a few runs to score in his inning of work. Starling Marte reached on an infield single, Kang was hit by a pitch and then Matt Joyce singled in a run. Another sac fly in the inning and the score was now, 7-4 Pirates.
The Wild Horse, Yasiel Puig won the game two days ago with his legs and tonight he showed off his power. In the sixth inning Puig hit a solo home run into left. Puig not only sent the ball over the fence, but he crushed the ball. The ball traveled an estimated 439 feet and left the ballpark at 108 MPH. Hopefully this is yet another sign that Puig is starting to become the offensive player everyone knows he has the potential to be. The Pirates would go through two more bullpen pitchers, but the Dodgers struck again when Justin Turner hit a sac fly to score SVS. The score was now 7-6, Pirates.
Offense was quiet for both teams until the bottom of the seventh inning when Matt Joyce led off with a solo home run off of Chris Hatcher. The Dodgers went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning and the broadcasters pointed out that the Pirates are 115-1 when leading after the eighth inning. Basically, the night was over for the Dodgers at that point according to history.
Josh Harrison hit a one out single in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a couple of pitches later, Hatcher had him picked off at first. It was a great play and a very deceiving pick off move. With the score at 8-6, Pirates, the Dodgers only had three outs to score some more runs.
The Dodgers had a heartbeat in the top of the ninth inning when Seager reached first base thanks to a poor throw from Harrison, only to have Turner come up and hit into a double play. Gonzo then struck out for the third and final out. It looks like history repeated itself yet again. The Pirates really do win when leading after the eighth.
The thing that was most frustrating about tonight’s game was the fact that the offense showed up, but the pitching did not. Not only was Tepesch not reliable, but the bullpen allowed three runs tonight too. The Dodgers finally got their bats to wake up, but sadly it was not enough to get the W thanks to poor pitching performances.