PITTSBURGH — A fan in the PNC Park started a unique, one-man chant Sunday afternoon after a hideous throwing error by Charlie Morton.
“D-F-A! D-F-A!,” the fan yelled.
No the Pirates did not designate the right-hander for assignment following Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park that snapped their four-game winning streak. The Pirates fell 4 ½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 7-5 at San Francisco, in the National League Central.
Morton had the kind of day that frustrates the fans and Pirates management. He was so good for three innings and then so bad for three innings.
Morton retired nine of the 10 batters he faced to begin the game, only opposing pitcher Jorge De La Rosa reaching first when third baseman Aramis Ramirez booted his grounder with two outs in the third.
Then it all fell apart on Morton at the start of the fourth inning.
D.J. LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez led off with back-to-back singles and LeMahieu scored on Nolan Arenado’s double. Ben Paulsen followed with a two-rn triple and suddenly the Rockies had a 3-0 lead against a pitcher who had been cruising.
“You watch the first three innings and he just kept spotting up location with sink,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “And then in a five-pitch window, they’ve got four hits. Two on fastballs left up and one on a breaking ball left up. It’s an unfortunate sequence there. They plated three runs, they took advantage of balls up over the plate and found gaps.
Morton said he had no regrets about any of the pitches in the inning other than leaving a pitch in the middle of the plate to LeMahieu.
“I made one pitch today that I didn’t execute,” Morton said. “The other pitches I did and they just got hits. The Arenado ball that he hit he just went with it. Paulsen, I feel like 0-0 right there, he’s going to be aggressive, he’s going to be hacking. I’ve got a good curveball so I threw it backdoor and he stayed on it.
“Really those hits that inning, they string together four hits right there and score a bunch of runs on some decent pitches.”
However, Morton made an awful throwing error in the fifth inning that allowed two more runs to score as the Rockies padded their lead to 5-0.
With two outs and runners on first and second base, Dustin Garneau hit a chopper between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. Morton fielded the ball and made an underhand toss over the head of first baseman Michael Morse.
“I didn’t realize how much time I had,” Morton said. “I had no idea. My head’s down, I’m going after the ball. I managed to throw it over a guy that’s eight feet tall.”