Proving your point costly for Pirates

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates made a point. They stuck up for themselves. They served notice.

They also helped themselves lose another ball game.

If you weren’t watching Monday night’s series opener in Phoenix, Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley didn’t have the best control. He threw a pitch high and tight to Josh Harrison, and it struck Harrison on the shoulder. Harrison spent several seconds glaring in the direction of the mound.

Later that inning, Shipley knocked down Austin Meadows with a similar pitch that was high and inside.

The Pirates led 5-0, and there was little doubt what was coming next.

Sure enough, Joe Musgrove threw a fastball that hit Chris Owings in the upper thigh and seemed to settle things.

You hit our guy, we hit one of yours. The umpires issued no warnings, and the game went on.

That was the bad part for the Pirates — the game.

Putting that runner on base for free was the start of a five-run inning that tied the score. The Diamondbacks got four more in the next inning and the Pirates turned a 5-0 lead into their 17th loss in 23 games.

Clint Hurdle didn’t think the free base was the cause. He said that there were many other pitches that had to be made and were not made. It’s a valid point.

But it all started with a base runner who didn’t earn his way on (other than collecting a bruise). Did the Pirates let the game get away because they were too focused on getting even on knockdown pitches? Maybe.

So Musgrove, who had pitched very well, wound up turning the game over to a frighteningly shaky bullpen. Another game down the drain.

Musgrove did the right thing by sticking up for his teammate. But it the end, it was a hollow gesture.

Take it easy

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown gave everyone a glimpse into his profoundly unhappy existence.

Brown showed up at mini-camp and complained about the way he has to live. He’s the victim of false news, he said, and that makes life difficult.

“I’ve got to wake up the Google alerts,” Brown said.

He said he can’t do “anything normal” because the media writes about him every day.

This comes from the privacy-loving guy who picked up some extra cash doing a Facebook Live webcast from the locker room as his coach addressed the team.

“I can’t really express myself in this game,” Brown said. “I can’t really tell you guys how I feel. You guys make the pressure to put pressure on me all the time. I’m not really free.”

Well, that’s a dirty shame.

Give or take a hundred thousand dollars, Brown is paid about $17 million per season for the inconveniences that come with his job.

Money isn’t everything, but that does seem like a fair trade-off.

Here’s hoping he finds some peace to go with that fortune.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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