Pirates falter against rookie Jungmann, lose to Brewers 4-1
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t know much about Milwaukee Brewers rookie pitcher Taylor Jungmann before Tuesday night other than he was tall and his numbers at Triple-A this spring weren’t so great.
Not that it seemed to matter whenever the Pirates stepped to the plate. Flummoxed by the rookie’s unorthodox delivery, Pittsburgh did little in a 4-1 loss that sapped whatever momentum remained from a successful 10-game road trip.
“You have to give (Jungmann) credit,” Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer said. “He was keeping us off-balance with his curveball and missing barrels. We hit a few balls hard off him, but nothing to show for it.”
His 6-foot-6 frame unfolding at the Pirates from odd angles, Jungmann allowed one run on three hits in his major league debut, striking out five against just one walk as the Brewers won for the fourth time in their last five games.
“This is the kind of game as a hitter you’ll go back and you’ll always say ‘I can’t wait to see him again,’” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “The first time you got to see him you weren’t able to do what you thought or it just didn’t work.”
Not by a long shot.
Starling Marte’s 12th home run was the only mistake by Jungmann. The 25-year-old struggled recently in the minors, but retired 13 straight at one point to send the Pirates to their second straight loss after a 13-3 burst that had given Pittsburgh’s season a needed jolt.
The Brewers shut out Pittsburgh 2-0 behind Jimmy Nelson on Monday. Jungmann was nearly as sharp 24 hours later. His first major league strikeout was a pretty fastball on the inside corner to Andrew McCutchen to end the bottom of the first, and Jungmann kept right on going. Save for a brief stretch in the second when he gave up a solo homer to Marte, a double to Pedro Alvarez and hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch, Jungmann had little trouble keeping the Pirates in check.
“I think that stepping behind you and throwing it, that just threw a lot of us off because you don’t see it that often,” Mercer said.
Francisco Liriano (3-5) kept pace with Jungmann until the seventh, when a leadoff walk to Ryan Braun started a two-run rally that pushed the Brewers in front to stay.
“Just couple ground balls that find a hole,” Liriano said. “That’s part of the game. Trying to hit my spot. Not trying to do too much.”
Jason Rogers and Aramis Ramirez each hit solo homers and drove in two runs for Milwaukee. Francisco Rodriguez worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save.
Jungmann, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft, came in just 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA in Triple-A this spring, but hardly seemed intimidated against the Pirates.
Liriano was nearly as crisp save for an 0-2 breaking ball that Rogers tucked into the first row of seats in left for a home run in the second, and a quick strike by the Brewers in the seventh. Braun led off with a walk and went to third on a single up the middle by Carlos Gomez. Braun scored on a chopper back to the mound by Ramirez and Rogers singled to center to make it 3-1.
Liriano ended up working eight innings, giving up three runs on five hits.
The Pirates went pitching heavy in the second day of the amateur draft, taking six collegiate pitchers in rounds 3-10, including RHPs Jacob Taylor (Pearl River Community College), JT Brubaker (Akron), Seth McGarry (Florida Atlantic), Brett Helton (Utah), Logan Sendelbach (Tiffin) and LHP Brandon Waddell (Virginia). Infielder Mitchell Tolman (Oregon) and OF Casey Hughston (Alabama) were the only position players taken by Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Helton’s father Barry spent four years as a punter in the NFL, winning a pair of Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 and 1990.
Milwaukee took a younger approach to the second day of the draft. The Brewers grabbed three high schoolers on Tuesday: RHPs Nash Walter (Lindale, Texas) and Karsen Lindell (West Linn, Oregon) and OF Demi Orimoyle (St. Matthews HS, Ontario, Canada). Milwaukee also selected collegiate players SS Blake Allemand (Texas A&M), RHP Eric Hanhold (Florida), 3B George Iskenderian (Miami), RHP Nate Griep (Kansas State) and LHP Jake Drossner (Maryland).
The series wraps up Wednesday when Kyle Lohse (3-6, 6.59) faces Charlie Morton (3-0, 2.84). Lohse is 11-5 with a 4.02 ERA in 25 games against the Pirates, but is 0-2 versus Pittsburgh this season. McCutchen is a career .311 hitter against Lohse, with three homers and 11 RBIs. Morton is unbeaten since coming off the disabled list last month following hip surgery. He went 0-2 against Milwaukee last season, with both defeats coming when Lohse started for the Brewers.