Pittsburgh Pirates Defeat Atlanta Braves in Extra Innings
By Marty Leap
Thursday night the Pittsburgh Pirates continued their six-game road trip by kicking off a four-game series at Truist Park in Atlanta
After being swept in a brief two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals to start their road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates bounced back with an era innings victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night. Led by great work from the bullpen, the home run ball and a 10th inning rally, the Pirates picked up a 6-4 victory over the Braves in the first game of their four-game series.
With the win, the Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 18-25 on the season.
Wil Crowe struggles with the long ball
Right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe made his 5th start of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. While Crowe pitched into the 6th inning and struck out 7, he was plagued by the long ball as he allowed a pair of home runs.
In 5+ innings pitched Crowe allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, 2 home runs and 7 strikeouts. On the season Crowe now owns a 4.91 ERA, 5.04 FIP, an 11.5% walk rate and he’s allowed home runs at a rate of 1.40 HR/9.
Crowe has flashed some good things with the Pirates this season, but overall he has struggled. Walks and the long ball have plagued Crowe leading to his high ERA and FIP. While Crowe’s long-term home in the Majors may prove to be as a reliever, at least for now he should continue to take the ball every five days for the Pirates to give him the opportunity to prove himself as a starter.
Jacob Stallings makes an impact in his return
After leaving Sunday’s game early with a leg injury catcher Jacob Stallings return to the lineup on Thursday night. Stallings was in the clean up spot in his return to the lineup and quickly made an impact for the Pirate offense.
With two-outs in the top of the 1st inning Stallings hit a 2-run home run to left field. His 4th home run of the season gave the Pittsburgh Pirates an early 2-0 lead. Stallings also drew a walk later in the game.
On the season Stallings is now hitting for a .260/.374/.471 slash line to go with a 136 wRC+. He also has an excellent 14.6% walk rate and a strong 20.3% strikeout rate this season. Quietly, Stallings continues to develop into one of the best two-way catchers in baseball.
Night of the long ball
In addition to Stallings, there were three other home runs hit on Thursday night. Atlanta catcher William Contreras hit a 3-run home run in the 2nd inning to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. This marked the first time since 2012 that both starting catchers in a Pirate game hit a home run in the first 2 innings.
In the top of the 6th inning Bryan Reynolds hit a solo home run. The 4th home run of the season form Reynolds tied the game at 3. Then in the bottom of the 6th inning Dansby Swanson led off with a home run, chasing Crowe and giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
Adam Frazier stays red hot
Who is the MLB leader in hits? That would be none other than Pirate second baseman Adam Frazier. After collecting 4 more hits on Thursday night Frazier now has a MLB leading 58 hits this season.
Frazier drove in a run to tie the game at 4 in the 7th inning. He also led off the 10th inning with a base hit moving Ben Gamel to third base giving the Pirates runners on the corners with no out, this hit sparked the Pirates taking the lead.
With Frazier likely to be traded before the July 31st trade deadline his trade value continues to skyrocket. Frazier is now hitting for a .339/.403/.473 slash line to go with a 144 wRC+ this season. Frazier should net the Pirates a strong return on the trade market this summer.
10th inning rally
After Frazier singled to start the 10th inning, Kevin Newman followed with a base hit. The Newman hit scored Game, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead. This was followed by a Bryan Reynolds single to load the bases.
With the bases loaded and one out Gregory Polanco lined out to left field. This liner resulted in a sacrifice fly that scored Frazier from third base, giving the Pirates a 6-4 lead that they would not relinquish.
More great work from the bullpen
Through the season the Pirate bullpen has quietly been one of the best in the National League. In Thursday night’s victory the excellent bullpen work continued for the Pirates, and the work of the bullpen played a major role in the Pirate victory.
Clay Holmes was the first reliever summoned by Derek Shelton. Holmes retired all three batters he faced, recording a pair of strikeouts. David Bednar took over in the 7th inning and pitched a scoreless inning. Chris Stratton did the same in the 8th. Both Bednar and Stratton recoded a strikeout along the way.
Richard Rodríguez took over for the Pirates in the 9th inning. He retired the Braves in order in the 9th, then did the same in the 10th. This outing continued what has been a dominant season for Rodríguez.
Rodríguez has now pitched 19 innings this season and has allowed just 1 run. This 1 run has come on just 6 hits, a single walk, no home runs allowed and 15 strikeouts. Rodríguez is pitching his way into being a hot commodity at the trade deadline.
The work of the Pirate bullpen has been great to see this inning. It has come from a mix of young arms that the Pirates can build the bullpen around moving forward, as well las veteran arms that could be good trade chips in July. This is a win-win for the Pirates.
Friday night at Truit Park it will be the battle of the Andersons. Lefty Tyler Anderson (3.50 ERA, 3.54 FIP) will look to continue his strong start to the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the Braves plan to send 23-year-old righty Ian Anderson (3.20 ERA, 3.60 FIP) to the mound.