The Pittsburgh Pirates offense had a big night at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday
After a slow start to the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup has turned into one of the most potent in the National League. Former Pirate ace Gerrit Cole and the Astros bullpen held the Pirate lineup in check in a 5-1 loss on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, however, the Pirate offense was back to being a handful.
The Bucs crossed home plate eight times in a 14-2 victory over the Astros. Following the victory, the Pirates are now 47-51 on the season.
Facing left-handed starter Framber Valdez, the Pirate offense struck early and often.
Kevin Newman extended his hitting streak to 16 games to start the game. Then with two outs in the inning Josh Bell hit a mammoth 2-run home run. His 21st long ball of the season made the score 2-0 Pirates.
With the score now 2-1, the Pirates plated two more runs in the top of the 2nd inning.
Elias Diaz and Corey Dickerson hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning. Then with two outs, Newman singled in Dickerson to make the score 4-1 Pirates. In the 3rd inning, Dickerson singled home Bell and Jose Osuna. Dickerson’s single gave the Pirates a 6-1 lead in the 3rd inning.
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On Wednesday night, rookie righty Dario Agrazal made his second MLB start for the Pirates. Agrazal allowed a lead off home run to George Springer in the 1st inning. After the home run, he got out of the rest of the inning unscathed before retiring the Astros in order in the 2nd.
In the 3rd inning Agrazal appeared to be in trouble with runners one the corner and just one out for Alex Bregman. Agrazal would strikeout Bregman, and then get out of the inning due to some fine defense.
The Astro runners were moving on the play and got hung up on the bases. Second baseman Adam Frazier ran the lead runner back to first base before tossing the ball to Osuna. At this point, Robinson Chirinos broke for the plate.
Instead of trying to make a throw to the plate, Osuna executed the play perfectly and ran right at Chirinos. He was then able to tag out Chirinos to cap off the inning ending double play.
The 5th inning started out looking hairy for Agrazal. He walked Tyler White to start the inning and fell behind Chirinos 3-0. He would then recover by getting Chirinos to hit into a double play, before retiring Jose Altuve to end the inning with the Bucs still leading 6-1.
Chris Devenksi took over on the mound for Valdez in the 4th inning. After retiring the first six batters he faced, Devenski ran into trouble in the 6th inning.
Leading off the inning Dickerson hit a Devenski pitch that bounce in the dirt before reaching home plate. Dickerson still managed to bloop the ball into shallow center field before hustling into second base for a double. This was followed by an absolute moonshot by Jung Ho Kang. Kang blasted a home run that landed on the train tracks in left-center field at Minute Maid Park, Kang’s 6th home run of the season made the score 8-1 Pittsburgh.
Agrazal took the hill in the 6th inning with a big lead. After issuing a lead off walk, he retired the next three batters to post a zero and finish his night strong. In 6 innings of work Agrazal allowed just the Springer home run to go along with five hits, three walks, and three strikeouts.
Holding the high powered Astros lineup to just 1 run in 6 innings of work, especially at Minute Maid Park, is extremely impressive. By all accounts, it was an excellent start from Agrazal. He has certainly earned another start at some point this season.
Richard Rodriguez took over for Agrazal in the 7th inning. After allowing a base hit to start the inning, Rich Rod continued his strong work since being recalled from Triple-A by retiring the next three batters to end the inning. This included a pair of strikeouts.
In the 8th inning, Chris Stratton was summoned from the Pirate bullpen. After Stratton allowed a run in the inning, White shifted from first base to relief pitcher for the Astros. It did not go well.
White walked the first two batters he faced before allowing a 3-run home run to Osuna. Osuna’s 4th home run of the season made the score 11-2 Pittsburgh. After Diaz worked a walk, Dickerson hit his third double of the night. This led to a sacrifice fly by Frazier.
Following the Frazier sacrifice fly, Newman crushed a home run to left field. His 3rd home run of the season extended the Pirate lead to a dozen at 14-2.
Melky Cabrera doubled off of White, Marte drew his second walk of the inning, and then that spelled the end of the night for White. As White gladly handed the ball to AJ Hinch to end his night, backup catcher Max Stassi took over for White. Stassi got Bell to ground out to, mercifully, end the inning.
Stratton returned to the mound for the Pirates in the 9th inning. He would finish the Astros off by retiring three of the four hitters in the inning, closing out a 14-2 Pirate victory.
With the win on Wednesday, the Pirates continued their recent hot stretch. Since losing 7 in a row on their last road trip, the Bucs are now 7-3 in their last 10 games played. Despite all of the ups and downs this season, the Bucs find themselves still in the thick of the NL Wild Card race sitting 4.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies.
Thursday afternoon’s series final is scheduled for 2:10. Former Astro Joe Musgrove (4.57 ERA, 3.74 FIP) makes his return to Houston as he looks to build off a 7 inning gem in his last start. Righty Brad Peacock (3.62 ERA, 3.71 FIP) will toe the rubber for the ‘Stros.