Kratz pitches in with mound appearance in rout

Kratz pitches in with mound appearance in rout

PITTSBURGH -- Erik Kratz did what no other Pirates pitcher -- you read that right -- did all night Tuesday. He was the only one to record more than one out and not allow a run. None of the runs in the Pirates' 15-4 loss to the Giants rest on the recently acquired catcher's shoulders.

Starter Wilfredo Boscan surrendered seven runs in the fourth inning and was pulled early, and the Pirates lost two outfielders over the course of the game. Manager Clint Hurdle didn't just let Kratz pitch the ninth inning for fun. But when Kratz took the mound, he saw a pretty simple task in front of him.

"You just try to enjoy it," Kratz said. "I think I can probably throw the ball over the plate, and that's what I tried to do. There's nothing really scientific about it. I'm just trying to throw strikes and not blow my arm out."

It all started when Andrew McCutchen came out of the game in the seventh inning. Starling Marte took McCutchen's place in center field, Gregory Polanco moved to left field and Matt Joyce headed to right field.

Then, Marte left the game with left foot discomfort after chasing down a ball. Fresh out of outfielders, first baseman John Jaso moved to right field and Kratz moved to first base.

Marte exits ballgame

Pittsburgh's dwindling bullpen had tacked on eight runs to the Giants' total, and they needed an arm. At the last minute, Kratz's name was called.

"I got a heads up a minute before we made the decision to have him pitch," Hurdle said.

Kratz responded by striking out Brandon Belt, who is hitting .305, with a 79 mph changeup. Kratz gave up two singles, but got Mac Williamson to ground out and Gregor Blanco to fly out.

It certainly wasn't how the Pirates planned to handle the ninth, but they were down by 12 runs and needed someone to take the mound. Kratz won't be competing for a Cy Young anytime soon, yet it was enough to close out the top of the ninth.

"It happens in games that are unfortunate," Kratz said. "You don't want to have to come in and pitch, because it's probably not real good for your team. But hopefully it saved somebody's arm in the bullpen, and that's going to help us down the road."

Both David Freese and Sean Rodriguez offered to pitch, but Hurdle said he thought Kratz would handle it well. Kratz had pitched an inning in the Astros' 11-1 loss to the Mariners in April.

To Hurdle, Kratz's calm demeanor meant more than his inning of experience, though.

"I thought he would have the mentality and the wherewithal and the makeup to go enjoy it but be serious about it at the same time," Hurdle said. "And he was. He was very professional with the outing."

Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.