Youth Movement Carries Pittsburgh Pirates To 5th Consecutive Victory
By Marty Leap
It appears that a youth movement is on in full force in Pittsburgh, and the early returns have been positive
The 2018 season has been an up and down one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite starting 26-17 and winning 11 games in a row in July, the Bucs are not going to playing in the postseason this fall.
However, the month of September can still be beneficial for the Bucs. If the team commits to looking ahead to 2019 and playing their young guns this month they can build a lot of momentum and confidence heading into 2019. Thus far, that is what has happened.
On Saturday afternoon, the Pirates defeated the Miami Marlins at PNC Park by a score of 5-1. With the win, the Bucs have now won five games in a row to improve to 5-2 this month. Saturday’s victory also gives the team back-to-back series victories and gets the team back to .500 at 71-71.
The first member of the youth movement to make an impact was outfielder Jordan Luplow. After driving in a pair of runs in his lone at bat on Friday night, Luplow recorded a two-out double in the bottom of the 1st inning. With a strong September, Luplow could put himself in the driver’s seat for the fourth outfield spot entering Spring Training.
More from Rum Bunter
- Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres Gonzalez
- Pittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings Fallout
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved
- Pittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official
While the Pirates would strand Luplow, they would still grab an early lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, shortstop of the future Nevin Newman picked up his first Major League RBI. It came when he singled in Jose Osuna, who doubled to start the inning and is looking to make his case as a bench player for 2019, with one out. This gave the Bucs a 1-0 lead.
Josh Bell walked to lead off the bottom of the 4th inning, Osuna singled, and the Bucs were once again in business. With two outs in the inning Jacob Stallings laced a single to center field. An error by Lewis Brinson allowed Stallings to reach second base, and Bell and Osuna to both score.
Stallings’ hit and Brinson’s miscue gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead after 4 innings of play.
One of the team’s wily veterans – Ivan Nova – started for the Bucs on Saturday afternoon. In his first start in almost two weeks after missing a start due to a personal issue, Nova was excellent for the Bucs.
Thanks to great control and a wicked curveball Nova pitched 6 scoreless innings on Saturday afternoon. He allowed just three hits while issuing just one walk to go along with nine strikeouts which tied a season high. The other time he fanned nine this season? On April 15th which was also against the Marlins.
In the bottom of the 6th inning the Pirate lead grew to 4-0 when Bell cranked a solo home run. This was Bell’s 10th home run of the season, and gives him home runs in back-to-back games.
Dovydas Neverasukas pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 7th inning, before Starling Marte doubled home Adam Frazier in the bottom half of the inning to make the score 5-0 Pirates. The Bucs would go on to load the bases when Luplow got hit by a pitch and Bell walked. However, Osuna then struck out to end the inning.
As a light drizzle started to turn into a steady rain in the top of the 8th inning, Nick Kingham took over on the mound for the Pirates. After issuing a pair of walks and allowing a double, Kingham found himself in a bases loaded jam with just one out.
After getting a pop out to shallow left field, Kingham uncorked a wild pitch allowing a run to score. However, he then induced a pop out to Bell in foul territory to end the inning with the Pirates ahead 5-1.
Kingham returned to the mound in the 9th inning. Despite allowing a leadoff double, he posted a zero to finish off the Pirate victory.
Powered by youth the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing strong baseball right now. While the 2018 Pirates will not be returning to the postseason, a winning record is very doable and finishing the season strong to build confidence and momentum would be a great way to finish the season.
At 1:35 p.m. on Sunday afternoon the Pirates will go for their sixth victory in a row and a sweep of the Marlins. Ex-Marlin farmhand Trevor Williams (3.15 ERA, 4.16 FIP), who has been historically good the past two months, will look to continue his hot stretch for the Pirates. Meanwhile, Don Mattingly and the Fish will send Jeff Brigham to the mound. This will be Brigham’s second career MLB start and appearance. In his other start he allowed three runs on four hits and three walks against the Toronto Blue Jays.