Pittsburgh Pirates: JT Brubaker Leads Way in Victory Over the Reds

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: JT Brubaker #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on May 11, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: JT Brubaker #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on May 11, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

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For the first time this season the Pittsburgh Pirates are victorious over the Cincinnati Reds

Entering the second game of their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds the Pittsburgh Pirates were 0-4 against the Reds this season. Not only were they 0-4, but they had not even been competitive having been outscored 44-9.

Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally got into the win column on the season against the Reds with a 7-2 victory. Following the win the Pirates are now 15-20 on the season. It also gives the Pirates an opportunity to pick up a series victory with a win on Wednesday afternoon.

Another strong start by JT Brubaker

There have been few pitchers in the National League who have been a bigger surprise than JT Brubaker. Entering the season Brubaker was looking to solidify himself as a member of the Pirate starting rotation. Thus far, he has done just that.

In the victory on Tuesday night Brubaker held the Reds just 1 run on 5 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts. The lone run Brubaker allowed in his 6 strong innings of work was a solo home run by Jesse Winker.

Brubaker has now pitched 38.1 innings in 7 starts this season. The 27-year-old righty owns a 2.58 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 5.6% walk rate and a 25.5% strikeout rate. Brubaker is emerging as a key building block in the Pirate starting rotation moving forward.

Adam Frazier sparks offense early, finishes it late

Somewhat quietly, Pirate second baseman Adam Frazier is off to a terrific start this season. He entered Tuesday night’s victory second in the National League in hits and collected two more hits in the victory. These hits extended his hitting streak to a current MLB best 12 games.

Frazier was able to spark the Pirate offense early and then capped off the scoring late. Leading off the bottom of the 1st inning Frazier single. Then with two outs he scored on a wild pitch, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

Then in the bottom of the 8th inning, Frazier struck again. With the Pittsburgh Pirates leading 5-2 and a runner on base, Frazier launched a pitch from lefty Sean Doolittle into the seats in right field. Frazier’s 1st home run of the season extended the Pirate lead to 7-2, which would prove to be the final.

On the season Frazier is now hitting for a .312/.385/.442 slash line to go with a 131 wRC+. He’s also flashed a good eye at the plate, walking in 9.0% of his trips to plate while striking out just 10.3% of the time. The Pirate second baseman should be a hot commodity on the trade market this summer.

Troy Stokes Jr. with a nice night at the plate

Making his third start in as many days since joining the Pirate roster, outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. had the best game of his young MLB career. The nice night for Stokes Jr. started in the bottom of the 4th inning when he singled home Kevin Newman, who collected a RBI triple earlier in the inning. This gave Stokes Jr. his first MLB hit and RBI, and the Pittsburgh Pirates a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 8th inning with the Pirates looking for insurance runs Stokes Jr. would provide just that. He ripped a double down the left field line, for his first career extra base hit, driving in another run, making the score 5-2 Bucs. He also picked up his first career stolen base and drew his first career walk in the victory.

During Grapefruit League action Stokes Jr. made an impression. He was one of the best Pirate players this spring and turned heads. Now, Stokes Jr. is beginning to do the same thing as a member of the active roster. Look for Stokes Jr. to continue to earn regular at-bats as long as he continues to perform at the plate.

Bullpen continues to lock things down

When Brubaker exited the game after the 6th inning the Pittsburgh Pirates were leading 4-1. Entering the night the Pirates were 12-0 on the season when leading after 6 innings. That number is now 13-0.

Chris Stratton was the first man summoned by Derek Shelton. The veteran righty allowed a single while pitching a scoreless 7th inning. David Bednar started the 8th inning and allowed a run, but a base running blunder by the Reds and a strikeout got Bednar the first 2 outs of the inning. Sam Howard then retired Mike Moustakas to end the inning.

Then in the 9th inning it was Richard Rodríguez. Looking to bounce back from having his 23 outing scoreless streak snapped in his previous outing, Rodríguez did just that. Rich Rod retired 3 of the 4 batters he faced while recording a strikeout to slam the door shut on the Reds.

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What’s next?

Wednesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will play the rubber match of their three-game series. Trevor Cahill (6.75 ERA, 3.58 FIP) is scheduled to pitch for the Pirates while the Reds plan to send Sonny Gray (3.92 ERA, 3.59 FIP) to the mound. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 12:35 PM ET.