Bullpen Leads Pittsburgh Pirates To Victory Over San Francisco Giants
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates have won two of the first three games on their current seven-game road trip
Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a 9th inning rally to defeat the San Francisco Giants 6-4. On Tuesday night, a rally in the 8th inning wasn’t enough in a 5-4 loss. Wednesday night, Dario Agrazal and the Pirates were looking to take a 2-1 series lead over the Giants in their four-game series from Oracle Park.
Following a 6-3 victory, the Pirates will now go for a series victory on Thursday afternoon. With the win, the Pirates are now 64-82 overall this season. While the overall record is poor, the Pirates have been playing better of late as the team is now 12-7 in their last 19 games.
After each team was kept off the scoreboard in the 1st inning, the Pirates drew first blood in the 2nd.
Jose Osuna doubled to start the inning and scored on an Adam Frazier single. On the hit, a throwing error by Mike Yastrzemski allowed Frazier to take second base. After Frazier moved to third base on a wild pitch by Giants starter Logan Webb, San Francisco elected to bring the infield in.
Bringing the infield would prove to burn the Giants. Kevin Kramer hit a pop up that would have been caught had the infield been at normal depth. Instead, in dropped for a hit and Kramer’s first career RBI. This gave the Bucs a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the 4th inning Osuna picked up his second lead off double in three innings. After he moved to third base on a groundnut by Frazier, Elias Diaz hit a sacrifice fly to plate Osuna. This made the score 3-0 Pirates.
The Pirate lead then grew to 4-0 in the 5th inning when Kevin Newman singled, stole second, and scored on a base hit by Colin Moran. After allowing a run-scoring base hit to Moran, Webb walked Josh Bell. This walk brought Webb’s night to an end.
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As for Agrazal, he cruised through the first 4 innings. Agrazal did not allow a run on just one hit and zero walks through his first 4 innings of work. But in the 5th inning, the wheels came off.
Kevin Pillar reached on an infield hit to start the inning, Brandon Crawford walked, Jaylin Davis singled, and the Giants had the bases loaded with no one out. Corban Joseph then hit a ground ball that Newman fielded and then should have thrown to first base for the guaranteed out. Instead, he tried to flip to Frazier at second base and wound up committing an error.
After Newman defensive miscue, the Pirate lead have been cut to 4-2 and Agrazal was lifted from the game for Michael Feliz. This season Feliz has been excellent at stranding runners. However, he got himself into trouble on Wednesday night.
Feliz’s night started with a walk, a strikeout, and another walk. The second walk came with the bases loaded to force in a run. Feliz then put a foot down with a strikeout and a pop out to end the inning with the Pirates leading 4-3. Even though one of his inherited runners scored, Feliz has still stranded a healthy 71% (19/27) inherited runners this season.
Agrazal pitched better than his final line indicates. He also induced soft contact throughout the night. In 4+ innings of work Agrazal was charged with 3 runs, one of which scored after he exited the game, on three hits, a walk, and two strikeouts. Only three balls that were put in play off of Agrazal had an exit velocity greater than 95.5 MPH, and one of them resulted in a groundout.
To the Pirates credit, they quickly got one of those runs back.
Throughout the season pinch hitting has been a huge strength for the Pirates. It would continue in the 6th inning when Pablo Reyes worked a pinch hit walk and scored on a pinch hit double by Cole Tucker. The rookie’s double made the score 5-3 Pirates.
With the Pirate lead at 2 runs, Keone Kela was summoned to pitch the bottom of the 6th inning. Kela would need just 13 pitches to retire the Giants in order. This included a backwards K to end the inning. Scoreless innings of work by Richard Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano sent the game to the 9th inning with the Pirates leading 6-3.
In the 9th inning, it was Felipe Vazquez time. Felipe would mow the Giants down. He retired the Giants in order and needed just 6 pitches to do so.
The Pirate bullpen was fantastic on Wednesday night. In 5 innings of work none of the five relievers used were charged with a run, although Feliz did allow an inherited runner to score, nor did any of them allow a run. Ultimately, the bullpen was a major reason the Pirates were victorious on Wednesday night.
The fourth and final game of the series is scheduled for 3:45 on Thursday afternoon. If he is ready to go Joe Musgrove (4.67 ERA, 4.07 FIP) will make the start for the Pirates. If not, it will be Alex McRae (8.41 ERA, 8.03 FIP). Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija (3.64 ERA, 4.68 FIP) will start for the Giants.