Pittsburgh Pirates End Losing Streak At Seven By Blowing Out Miami
By Marty Leap
After a dreadful start to their road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates got back in the win column on Friday night
What is sure to be a riveting three-game series kicked off Friday night in Miami. Owning the worst winning percentage in the National League, the Miami Marlins welcomed the Pittsburgh Pirates and the third worst winning percentage in the NL to town. To boot, the Pirates entered the game losers of eight and row and just a 6-18 record in their last 24 games.
On Friday night, however, the Pirates finally got to have some fun. The Pirates picked up a much needed victory by blowing out the Marlins. With the 11-0 win, the Pirates are now 31-38 on the season.
Entering the series, the Pirates, despite their losing ways, were one of the hottest offensive clubs in the NL. While the Marlins are last in all of Major League Baseball in runs scored, their pitching staff has been sneaky good this season.
Speaking of pitching that has been sneaky good of late, lefty Steven Brault started for the Pirates on Friday. Entering the start, Brault owned a 2.55 ERA in his last five outings, which included three starts and covered 24 2/3 innings. His strong work would continue on Friday.
With the game scoreless, Starling Marte singled to start the 4th inning and advanced to second base on a throwing error by Miami starting pitcher Trevor Richards. With one one, Marte scored on a Colin Moran single to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
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After a Marlins error put runners on the corners with just one out, the Bucs had a good chance to add to their lead. However, Richards was able to get Elias Diaz to hit into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
Brault would help his own cause with a one out double in the 5th inning. He then scored on a Kevin Newman double to make the score 2-0 Pirates. Following a base hit by Bryan Reynolds, Newman would score on a Marte sacrifice fly, Josh Bell tripled in Reynolds, and Moran singled in Bell. Just like that, it was 5-0 Pirates.
Earlier this week, the Pirate offense handed Atlanta ace Mike Soroka his worst start of the season. They did the same to Richards, who entered the game with a strong 3.31 ERA, on Friday. In 5 innings pitched, Richards allowed 5 runs on 11 hits and he recorded just a single strikeout. This start set a new season high in hits allowed for Richards, a new season low in strikeouts, and tied his season high in runs allowed.
Last Sunday, Brault turned in arguably the best start of his MLB career allowing just 2 runs in a career high 6 1/3 innings pitched. He was even better on Friday night.
Brault’s fastball command was excellent throughout the start. The wildness that has plagued him throughout his MLB career was non-existent. This was the longest outing of his career, start or relief, without issuing a walk.
In 6 scoreless innings of work, Brault allowed eight hits and he struck out six. During his strong six game stretch, he now owns a 2.05 ERA in 30 2/3 innings pitched. All of a sudden, Brault is looking like a key cog in the Pirate starting rotation.
For the strides he has made, Brault deserves an insane amount of credit. As does pitching coach Ray Searage. At one point Brault did not look like a MLB quality pitcher. All of a sudden, the tweaks they made to his delivery appear to be paying off and Brault is pitching the best baseball of his career.
The Pirate offense really blew the game wide open in the top of the 7th inning.
Reynolds doubled to start the inning, and Bell was intentionally walked with one out. The intentional walk was followed by a 3-run home run from Moran. Moran’s 10th home run of the season gave him 5 RBIs on the night, and made the score 8-0 Pirates.
With the Pirates leading by a touchdown and a two point conversion, Michael Feliz took over on the mound in the bottom of the 7th inning. After retiring the Marlins in order, which included a pair of strikeouts, Adam Frazier tripled to lead off the top of the 8th inning. Jose Osuna then blasted his 2nd pinch hit home run of the season, making the score 10-0 Pirates. After collecting his 4th base hit of the game, Reynolds would score on a Bell sacrifice fly to make it 11-0 good guys.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Clay Holmes took over on the mound for the Pirates. Holmes worked around a lead off to post a zero. Richard Rodriguez then finished the game off by pitching a scoreless 9th inning.
Friday night’s victory was a much needed one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team had fallen to a season worst eight games under .500 on the season, but have an opportunity to make up ground. The Marlins, as well as their next two opponents – the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres – are sub-.500 teams. This gives the Pirates an opportunity to start working their way back toward .500 with a good nine game stretch.
In addition to Brault, another big positive on Friday night was the Pirate bullpen. For much of the season the Pirate bullpen has been a mess. However, after pitching 3 scoreless innings the ‘pen has now allowed just 2 runs in their last 18 innings of work. Hopefully, this is a sign of the bullpen turning a corner.
Game two of this three-game series is scheduled for 6:10 on Saturday evening Dario Agrazal (3.10 ERA, 3.73 FIP at AAA) will make his MLB debut for the Pirates. Lefty Pablo Lopez (4.26 ERA, 3.61 FIP) who is off to a strong start this season will toe the rubber for Miami.