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Embarrassing loss to Brewers in Pirates’ home finale

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Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun (left) scores the second of two runs on a wild pitch as the throw from Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz gets past relief pitcher Michael Feliz during the sixth inning in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. A third run scored on the Feliz error.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ home season ended in wild, embarrassing fashion Sunday at PNC Park.

There were four home runs hit in the game, three by the Milwaukee Brewers, including one by their second baseman, Travis Shaw, whose 31st blast of the season sailed over the bleachers and out of sight.

That one was 425 feet. Two batters earlier, left fielder Christian Yelich’s bomb traveled 439 feet.

In the end, the Brewers (89-67) maintained their hold on the first National League wild-card spot with a 13-6 victory against the Pirates (78-76), who were officially eliminated from postseason contention when the St Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants.

Many in the crowd of 20,623 voiced their displeasure in a crazy sixth inning when the Brewers scored five runs, including three in a sequence of events worthy of an eight-year-old T-ball game.

In the inning, Pirates relief pitchers Steven Brault and Michael Feliz combined to walk five batters, throw two wild pitches and commit an error. That gave the Brewers five runs on only one hit, a single by Lorenzo Cain.

But the play that almost defied belief came with two out, the bases loaded and Eric Thames at bat for the Brewers. Feliz’s wild pitch bounced off catcher Elias Diaz’s knee and far enough up the first-base line for two runs to score. A third crossed the plate when Feliz, covering home, missed the throw from Diaz.

It left manager Clint Hurdle wondering what happened.

“I think Diaz lost track of the ball,” Hurdle said. “Bell (first baseman Josh) was trying to help him out. Feliz has to go to the plate (sooner). I’ve never seen three runs scored on a wild pitch.

“It’s a bad baseball play. Whether there’s confusion or lack of effort. There’s a combination of them going on there, I’m not sure.”

Overall, the Pirates threw three wild pitches, adding to their major-league leading total of 92.

Hurdle suggested Diaz missing all but two games this month due to a hamstring injury may have been a contributing factor.

“I think the speed of the game challenged him a couple different ways,” Hurdle said.

Speaking of Feliz, Hurdle said, “Sometimes, guys get to be trying too hard and they lose responsibility and that’s not acceptable either.”

The Brewers added their 13th run the standard way — with a homer by Mike Moustakas off Dovydas Neverauskas in the eighth inning.

Neverauskas was one of five relief pitchers called upon when Pirates starter Nick Kingham couldn’t get through the second inning. Joe Musgrove had been scheduled, but he has been shut down with an abdominal injury and Kingham had less than 24 hours to prepare for his first start since Sept. 2.

“I’ve been playing baseball my whole life so there’s no excuse,” Kingham said. “I’m a ball player. They asked me to go out there. I didn’t put up the numbers I wanted to.”

Hurdle allowed that his poor performance — seven hits and two walks while pitching to 15 batters — could be blamed on “down time.”

“His execution wasn’t what we’ve seen from him in the past,” Hurdle said.

The Pirates scored four runs in the fifth inning on two-run, back-to-back doubles by veteran infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, playing in their final game at PNC Park. Adam Frazier hit his 10th home run — a two-run shot into the right-field seats — in the ninth to complete the Pirates’ scoring.

The Pirates ended the season with a total attendance of 1,465,316 in 78 dates, the smallest overall turnout since PNC Park opened in 2001 and the lowest for the franchise since 1996.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected]
or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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