What else is there to say about this one other than Nelson Cruz hit a Jon Niese offering into another dimension (which I called in my preview) and the Pirates couldn’t hit Hisashi Iwakuma for most of the game.
The Pirates had two hits through six innings off Iwakuma, a pitcher who has struggled for most of this season. They finally broke through for a couple runs in the 7th inning, but by that point this game was all but over.
Niese struggled once again, giving up a run in the third and fourth inning and then three runs in the 5th inning with most of the damage on Cruz’s two-run bomb. The former Mets pitcher gave up a total of 20 home runs last season in 176.2 innings…and he’s already served up 19 home runs with the Pirates in just 92.1 innings. He’s on pace to give up about 38 home runs, which would be the most in a season since A.J. Griffin of the Athletics in 2013. This has been the number one issue for Niese, who was supposed to be the groundball pitcher the Pirates usually covet.
Tonight the Pirates will look to split the two-game series against the Mariners as RHP Jameson Taillon goes against LHP Wade Miley with first pitch at 10:10PM EST. If the Pirates don’t hit Miley (5.28 ERA/4.87 FIP) tonight, then I’ll be officially concerned about this offense.