The Pirates didn’t lose last night because Clint Hurdle mismanaged the bullpen.
The Pirates lost last night because they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. (After going 0-for-10 with RISP the night before.)
The Pirates lost last night because Neil Walker got picked off third base with one out in the fifth inning when a mere sacrifice fly or well-placed grounder would have increased their lead to 5-2. That’s a dreadful lapse.
The bullpen stumbled. But not because of Hurdle.
Hurdle very rarely uses his closer in non-save situations. That removed Mark Melancon from the equation.
Tony Watson pitched the eighth and was scheduled to bat in the ninth. Josh Harrison pinch-hit. Watson almost never pitches more than one inning, and you don’t let the pitcher bat there.
Justin Wilson surrendered a walk-off HR on Monday. Wilson vs. Kolten Wong would have been lefty-lefty, true. Just like Wilson vs. Matt Adams on Monday.
So Hurdle used Ernesto Frieri. Why not? He’s on the roster.
When you manage in MLB, you don’t just manage for that game. You manage for tomorrow, for the day after, and for 162 games, each of which impacts every game moving forward. You shouldn’t go against your consistent managerial philosophy and play a hunch to try to win one game. If you do, there are no guarantees.
The Pirates are 11-23 against NL Central rivals Cincinnati, Milwaukee and St. Louis. Maybe the Pirates just aren’t that good.
The problem isn’t Hurdle. He’s been a perfect fit for the Pirates. To say otherwise showcases your ignorance.