Mr. Walk Off Strikes Again for the Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 08: Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting a fielder's choice in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park on September 8, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 08: Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting a fielder's choice in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park on September 8, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

5. 4. 4. 128. Final

The Pittbsurgh Pirates hosted the Chicago White Sox tonight in game one of the two-game series. In a comeback effort the Bucs picked up the victory and win number 14 this season

A few weeks ago the Pittsburgh Pirates traveled to Chicago to take on the White Sox in a two-game series and suffered two losses, one of which was a no-hit loss against Lucas Giolito. The Bucs are off to a better start in this two-game series after tonight’s win and now sit at 14-26 through 40 games.

Let’s check out the details.

Strong Start From Joe Musgrove

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Joe Musgrove took the hill in his second start since returning from a right triceps injury and looked solid through his 4 innings of work. In his previous start, Musgrove suffered a loss as he allowed two runs on three hits over 3 innings against the Cubs.

The righty fared well through those three innings but allowed a single and double prior to being relieved in the 4th and those two runners came around to score via a home run off of reliever Nick Tropeano. All in all, the final stat line was not really indicative of Musgrove’s night as the former Blue Jays first-round draft pick also generated five ground ball outs to go along with his four strikeouts.

In Tuesday night’s start, Musgrove looked strong again surrendering only three hits and striking out five over his four innings of work. The Pittsburgh Pirates are being cautious with their Opening Day starter and keeping him on a bit of a pitch limit as he threw only 64 pitches (43 strikes) through his 4 innings.

Dovydas Neverauskas Struggles Again

Coming into the game, since August 20th, the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen had posted an ERA of 2.74 over 75.2 innings, good for the 3rd-lowest ERA in the National League over that span. Opponents posted a miserable .190 batting average over those 75.2 innings.

The ERA went up a bit tonight as reliever Dovydas Neverauskas ran into some trouble in the 5th.

White Sox right fielder Nomar Mazara led off the 5th inning with a strikeout but was followed by a Nick Madrigal double to the notch in left-center field. This brought shortstop Tim Anderson to the plate who singled to center. White Sox third base coach Nick Capra had his arms high, signaling Madrigal to hold at third but the second baseman had other plans and blew through the sign, heading for home. Pirates’ center fielder Bryan Reynolds fielded the ball cleanly and made a strong throw, though pulling catcher Jacob Stallings away from the plate a bit. Stallings fielded the throw and dove back to the plate to tag Madrigal just in time to record the second out. The assist was Reynolds’ 6th of the year, good for first in the National League.

Following the spectacular putout, however, the White Sox did some damage. Anderson advanced to second base on the throw home and Yoan Moncada followed with a single to score Anderson and give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Catcher Yasmani Grandal then came to the plate and launched one into the right field seats to extend the Sox lead to three.

Two-Out Rally

The bottom half of the inning got off to a slow start for the Pirates as first baseman Colin Moran grounded out to first and right fielder Gregory Polanco grounded out to second.

With the shift on, Pirates DH Josh Bell slapped a ball through the left side. Sprinting out of the box and immediately thinking double, Bell rounded first and did not break stride. This caught Eloy Jiménez off-guard as the left fielder’s throw to second was not in time, keeping the Bucs chances alive with two outs.

Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes stepped to the plate with two outs and tripled to right to score Bell and trim the White Sox lead to two. Through his first 21 at-bats, the rookie has tripled twice and sports an impressive .381/.435/.762 slash line.

With Hayes on third, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman reached via an infield single to third which scored Hayes and brought the Bucs within a run.

José Abreu Hit Streak

Coming into tonight’s game White Sox first baseman José Abreu had strung together a 20-game hit streak and he extended it to 21 tonight with a single with two outs in the top of the 8th inning.

Following Abreu’s single, Jiménez doubled off of the Clemente Wall and the ball was bobbled a bit by the right fielder Polanco and this allowed Abreu to come all the way around to score from first to give the White Sox a 4-2 lead entering the bottom half of the inning.

Jacob Stallings Delivers Again

Entering tonight’s game with a batting average of .293, Jacob Stallings came through again tonight with an RBI double in the bottom of the 8th to once again bring the team within one.

Second baseman Adam Frazier grounded to second to move Stallings to third where he was pinch ran for by Cole Tucker with one out.

The White Sox brought the infield in with Tucker at third and Pirate’s shortstop Erik Gonzalez promptly chopped one over shortstop Tim Anderson’s head to tie the game at four. The Pirates failed to do any more damage in the inning, however, and the game remained tied at four heading to the 9th.

The Pirates once again called upon righty Richard Rodríguez who allowed a double but struck out two in his one inning of work to give the Bucs a shot at victory in the bottom half of the inning.

Mr. Walk-off Does It Again

Polanco and Bell both singled to center to start the 9th inning which brought the second baseman Newman to the plate, following an intentional walk to Hayes. Newman collected five walk-off hits in his rookie campaign and added to that total tonight as he grounded a ball back to White Sox pitcher Jimmy Cordero, who could not make the play at home as pinch runner Jason Martin scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 9th.

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What’s Next

Tomorrow is Roberto Clemente Day in MLB and the Pittsburgh Pirates will be remembering The Great One by each wearing #21 in honor of the Pittsburgh legend. Also, for the first time in MLB history, all Puerto-Rican born players will be allowed to wear #21 as part of the league-wide commemoration. All players will be given the option to wear a #21 patch if they wish.

JT Brubaker (3.96 ERA, 5.00 DRA) will take the hill tomorrow night in game two of the two-game series against  righty Dane Dunning (3.86 ERA, 3.77 DRA) and the White Sox at 7:05 PM EST.