Fourth inning misplay haunts Lauer in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH– In the first three innings of Eric Lauer‘s start against the Pirates, the lefty displayed perhaps his best stuff since his promotion to the major leagues. He was painting corners and showing plus command, not allowing a base hit until Sean Rodriguez led off the bottom of the third with a knock to center field.

In the fourth inning, though, the Pirates finally got to the Ohio native. Pittsburgh sent eight men to the plate against Lauer; scoring three “earned” runs via some hard contact and some shoddy San Diego defense.

The inning began with Lauer working back from a 3-0 count to retire right fielder Gregory Polanco. Following a walk to catcher Francisco Cervelli, first baseman Josh Bell lined a single up the middle to place runners on second and third with one out.

Corey Dickerson, who was hitting .375 against lefties entering play today, strode to the plate. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Dickerson hit a seemingly catch-able line drive to left field. However, left fielder Franchy Cordero misread the liner and took an awkward route toward the ball. He ended up trying to lunge toward the ball at the last second to compensate for the misread, but it was to no avail. The ball skidded by his outstretched glove for an RBI double.

According to MLB.com’s Statcast, the line drive had a 99% catch probability. It is the second time this season that Cordero has failed to catch a ball with that aforementioned probability, with the last time being during Tyson Ross‘s no-hit bid in Arizona.

A David Freese sac fly and a Sean Rodriguez RBI double followed to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Padres and Eric Hosmer were able to give Lauer the lead back. Hosmer lined a two-run double that hit off the top of the right-center field wall to make the score 4-3.

However, the lead was short lived. In the bottom half, Lauer found himself in more danger; eventually allowing an RBI single to Josh Bell before being removed from the game after 4 2/3 innings. Craig Stammen came on in relief and was able to strand a few runners to preserve the starting pitcher’s line.

The Padres’ No. 11 prospect ended up throwing 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. He struck out three and walked three.

The good news for Lauer tonight was that his velocity (which was lower than normal in his prior outing) seemed to have been back. He averaged 90.3 mph on his fastball and maxed out at 93, inducing six swinging strikes on the evening.

The Padres and Pirates are currently tied at four apiece in the seventh inning.