Pittsburgh Pirates Outslug Dodgers, Get Back Over .500


After falling to .500 for the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are back over the .500 mark following a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

4. Final. 9. 71. 11

In desperate need of a win the Pittsburgh Pirates got just that on Wednesday night. Following an 11-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pirates are back over .500 after improving their record to 31-30. Wednesday’s victory was one that did not come easy for the Bucs. The game saw the Pirates jump out to a big early lead, only for the Dodgers to rally to tie the game before the Bucs put it away.

During their recent 4-13 stretch the Pirates were averaging just 3.1 runs per game. The offense, however, bounced back in a big way on Wednesday night. This offensive output, combined with a strong defensive game, powered the team to their 31st victory of the season.

Trevor Williams started for the Pirates on Wednesday night. After struggling to the tune of a 5.51 ERA and 4.58 FIP in the month of May, Williams’ struggles carried over into his first start in the month of June.

In the top of the 1st inning Williams benefitted from some luck, but also made pitches when he needed to. With two outs and Max Muncy on first base Matt Kemp hit a double down the right field line. The ball would skip into the stands which forced Muncy to stop at third base. Had the ball stayed in play, Muncy would have scored easily. Williams then got Cody Bellinger to groundout on his 28th pitch of the inning to escape the jam unscathed.

For the Dodgers, left-handed pitcher Caleb Ferguson was making his Major League debut.

After stranding a base runner in the bottom of the 1st inning, with an assist to poor baserunning by Josh Harrison, Ferguson would not get as lucky in the bottom half of the 2nd inning.

To start the inning he hit Corey Dickerson with a pitch. Colin Moran then had an excellent at bat to draw a one out walk. Moran’s walk was followed by a Sean Rodriguez walk that loaded the bases. Though the walk to Rodriguez loaded the bases, Ferguson looked like he may wiggle off the hook after he struck out Williams looking.

After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Harrison would burn Ferguson and make up for his 1st inning folly. Harrison ripped a double that hit the chalk line in left field and emptied the bases to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead.

Austin Meadows would work the third Pirate walk of the inning to bring Ferguson’s MLB debut to an end. Ex-Pirate Daniel Hudson replaced Ferguson and was able to get ahead of Starling Marte in the count 1-2. To Marte’s credit, he rolled Hudson’s 1-2 pitch through the infield for a groundball hit that scored Harrison.

When the dust settled from the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Pirates had sent nine men to plate and taken a 4-0 lead.

In his first Big League action Ferguson allowed four runs on a pair of hits, he walked three batters, and he also hit two in 1 2/3 innings pitched.

After being handed a 4-0 lead Williams would commit one of the cardinal sins of pitching – walking batters when you have a big lead. Williams issued back-to-back walks with two outs in the top of the 3rd inning before allowing a two-run double to Kemp that cut the Pirate lead to 4-2. Bellinger then crushed his 10th home run of the season to tie the game at 4.

The four-run top of the 3rd inning from the Dodgers started the exchange of back-and-forth blows between these two teams throughout the night, with the Pirates responded with their first counterpunch of the night in the bottom half of the 3rd inning.

PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 06: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 6, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 06: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 6, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Dickerson singled to start the inning and David Freese walked. Moran then hit a ground ball to Muncy at first base. Muncy’s throw to second would clank off Freese’s helmet and bounce into left field. This allowed Dickerson to score and Freese to get to third base.

Josh Bell pinch hit for Williams with one out and reached on a fielder’s choice after hustling out of the box. Bell’s fielder’s choice scored Freese and made the score 6-4 Pirates.

Steven Brault would replace Williams – who allowed four runs on four hits, two walks, and a home run in three innings pitched – in the top of the 4th inning. After Brault fired a 1-2-3 top of the 4th inning, the Pirate bats went to work again in the bottom half of the inning.

Facing Brock Stewart, Freese hit a doubled into the left field corner. His two-bagger would plate a pair of runs and get the Pirate lead back to four runs at 8-4.

Brault would run into trouble in the top of the 5th inning as both teams continued to mash.

With two on and one out, Kemp continued to use the time machine he found this past offseason to go back to 2011 as he crushed a three-run home run into the Dodger bullpen. This blast by Kemp cut the Pirate lead to 8-7.

After allowing a single to Austin Barnes with one out in the top of the 6th inning, Brault was relieved by Richard Rodriguez. After a long at bat Rodriguez got pinch hitter Breyvic Valera to fly out to left field. Dickerson came up firing to first base where Freese fielded the ball, dove toward the bag, and was able to tag the bag before Barnes got back for an inning ending double play. This double play was Dickerson’s fifth outfield assist of the season which is a new career high.

This made Rodriguez the first pitcher to post a zero in Wednesday night’s slugfest. And after this double play, the Pirates would respond with another uppercut of their own.

Leading off the bottom of the 6th inning Dickerson reached on an infield hit to give him three hits on the night. Freese walked, Moran reached on a fielder’s choice, and the Bucs had runners on the corners with just one out.

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Facing new Dodger pitcher Yimi Garcia, the struggling Sean Rodriguez got a much needed base hit. His hit scored Dickerson and extended the Pirate lead to 9-7. Speaking of struggling Pirates, Gregory Polanco would rip a pinch hit double to right field to plate two more runs. Polanco would get thrown out going for third on the play, but not before the Pirates led 11-7.

During his at bat Polanco was sporting a new approach in the batter’s box. Polanco was backed off the plate more which helped him avoid getting tied up. Hopefully, this change will be one that helps to get Polanco going at the plate again.

After a 1-2-3 top of the 7th inning from Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick took over for the Pirates in the top of the 8th inning. After issuing a pair of walks and uncorking two wild pitches, Crick found himself pitching to Yasiel Puig with runners on second and third and zero outs.

On a 3-2 pitch, Puig popped out in foul territory down the right field line. Polanco, who remained in the game as part of a double switch after pinch hitting, made an excellent running catch and fired to the plate to prevent Kemp from tagging and scoring from third base. Pirate announcer Steve Blass was also less than amused by Puig licking and biting his bat during his at bat.

After Crick got Logan Forsythe to pop out on the infield, he got ahead of Yasmani Grandal 0-2. Crick, however, would then get called for a balk that scored Kemp before Grandal blooped a single into right field scoring another run.

With the Pirate lead trimmed to 11-9, Pirate manager Clint Hurdle went to his bullpen. As part of a double switch, Felipe Vazquez took over on the mound for the Pirates looking to get the last four outs of the game.

Kike Hernandez pinch hit for the Dodgers and battled Felipe in an 11-pitch at bat. On the 11th pitch of the at bat, Felipe froze Hernandez with a fastball and struck him out looking to end the inning.

As Wednesday night’s boxing match at PNC Park entered its final round, Felipe would walk Chris Taylor to start the top of the 9th inning. After a strikeout, Felipe would walk Justin Turner to bring the go ahead run to the plate in the form of arguably the National League’s best hitter this season – Matt Kemp.

Entering this at bat Kemp was 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, and a home run. On a 3-2 pitch, Felipe got Kemp to lineout to Harrison for the second out of the inning. He then got Bellinger to groundout to end the game, closing out the 11-9 Pirate victory.

While Felipe was able to get the last four outs of Wednesday night’s win, he still looks like a pitcher pitching hurt. His velocity remains down and his control is still iffy. Healthy or not, he was able to finish off a much needed Pirate win on Wednesday.

After averaging 3.1 runs per game during their 4-13 stretch, the Pirates scored 11 runs in a victory on Wednesday. Hopefully, this is a game that gets the offense and the team going again.

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The third and final game of this series is scheduled for 12:35 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Jameson Taillon will toe the rubber for the Pirates, while Dennis Santana makes his second Major League career appearance and first start for the Dodgers. The Bucs will be looking to snap a string of five consecutive series losses.