The Pirates' bullpen has been a strength all season, with many of the relievers' statistics ranking among the best in the majors. But the two weakest links of late were badly exposed in the 10-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
The deficit was 5-2 when Mike Crotta took over in the eighth, and he gave up three singles and a walk to his only four batters. Over Crotta's past five appearances, he has pitched one official inning while allowing nine hits and two walks. Thus, he is an excellent candidate to be demoted as early as Wednesday, when Jose Ascanio must be recalled from a rehab assignment at Class AAA Indianapolis or put through waivers.
"He hasn't been able to repeat his delivery," manager Clint Hurdle said of Crotta. "You saw him spraying some, looking good on others. And he hasn't been able to get a secondary pitch, and that's problematic."
Chris Resop took over, and after a strikeout, walked the next two batters, each with bases loaded. The second of those walks was issued to Los Angeles reliever Matt Guerrier, prompting a thick round of boos from the home crowd. One out later, Aaron Miles stroked a two-run single, and it was 10-2. Resop's ERA was 1.56 a week ago, but he has retired only three of his past 11 batters.
"You feel like you go from cloud nine to drowning," Resop said. "It's the first bump I've hit in a long time. I'm letting people down right now. These guys aren't going out there and playing their backsides off for me to come in and do that."
Resop got a comebacker from the first batter of the ninth and threw the ball well over first baseman Lyle Overbay's head.
"He's very resilient," Hurdle said of Resop. "His whole career's been that way, and he'll get it solved."
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