Thursday night the Pittsburgh Pirates rode an 8th inning rally to a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins in the first game of their four-game weekend series
Thursday night at PNC Park the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins kicked off a four-game weekend series. Entering the game both teams were struggling. In game one of the series it was the struggles of the Marlins that continued.
Welcoming long-time Pirate star Starling Marte, the Bucs rallied to defeat the Marlins 5-3. With the win the Pittsburgh Pirates improve to 21-34 on the season and handed the Marlins their 6th consecutive loss and knocking them to 1-7 in their last 8.
Ke’Bryan Hayes makes an impact in his return
The story of the night for the Pittsburgh Pirates was the return of third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Due to a hand injury Hayes had been out since the second game of the season. In his return to the field Hayes picked up where he left off at last season and through the first two games of this season as he continues to look like a budding superstar.
Hayes was 2-for-4 with a triple in the win. He also flashed his defensive ability as he once again showed why he was two-time Gold Glove Award winner in the minors. With two outs in the 7th inning and Miami runners on second and third Hayes moved three steps to his left to make a sliding stop on a ball hit by speedster Jazz Chisholm to throw him out to end the inning.
Leading off the top of the 8th inning Hayes struck again with the glove. Marte hit 106 MPH rocket that appeared ticked down the left field line for extra bases. Instead, Hayes was able to stab the ball in the air to get the out.
The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to have their next face of the franchise superstar in Hayes. Players like that and thinking about what they can help the team accomplish in the future is part of what he’s fans get through tough rebuilding seasons such as this one. Sit back and buckle up because the Ke’Bryan Hayes Experience is just beginning.
Tyler Anderson turns in another strong start
Left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson is looking like one of the best free agent bargains of the offseason. After turning in another strong start on Thursday night the veteran lefty has made 11 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Outside of one disastrous start against the Braves (9 runs in 5 innings), Anderson owns a 3.68 ERA in his other 10 starts.
Thursday night Anderson gave the Pirates 5.1 strong innings of work. Through the first 5 innings of the game he held the Marlins to just 1 run which led to the game being tied at 1 entering the 6th inning.
In the 6th inning Anderson allowed a one-out double to Marte which put runners on second and third. Derek Shelton then lifted Anderson for Clay Holmes. While Holmes induced a pair of weak ground balls, one allowed a run to score from third and the other snuck into the outfield for a hit. This led to Anderson being charged with 3 earned runs.
Overall, Anderson allowed 3 runs on 5 hits, no walks, no home runs allowed and 4 strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. Anderson now owns a strong 6.6% walk rate and 23.0% strikeout rate this season. Again, outside of one disastrous start, he has been terrific with the Pirates and should generate plenty of trade buzz over the course of the next seven weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Another big night from Bryan Reynolds
While the Pirate offense struggled in the first 7 innings on Thursday night it was not due to Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds got the Pirates on the board in the 4th inning when he hit a solo home runs. His 8th home run of the season, which added to his team lead, tied the game at 1.
Reynolds would then step to the plate in the 6th inning with Hayes on third and the Pirates trailing 3-1. Reynolds hit a hard ground ball to shortstop that Chisholm could not corral leading to a poor throw. While Chisholm was charged with an error on the play Reynolds was still awarded his second RBI of the game.
Reynolds also garnered plenty of respect from the Miami pitching staff on Thursday night. With two outs in the 8th inning, the Pirates trailing 3-2 and Adam Frazier on second base, Reynolds drew a walk. However, it was clear from the get go that the Marlins had no intentions of throwing Reynolds a strike in the at-bat. It was a classic example of an unintentional intentional walk.
The 2021 season may prove to be a long and painful one for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans. Despite this there will still be some positives. One of the biggest positives is the bounce back season of Reynolds who is now hitting for a .289/.389/.500 slash line and a 148 wRC+ one the season as he continues to prove that his poor 2020 season was nothing but a fluke.
Pirates rally in the 8th inning
Adam Frazier reached on an infield with one out in the 8th inning. While it seemed innocent at the time, especially after Hayes grounded out for the second out of the inning, it proved to be a rally starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates on their way to a come from behind victory.
The Marlins would issue an unintentional intentional walk to Reynolds. Gregory Polanco then had a strong AB resulting in a walk to load the bases. Jacob Stallings, who has become one of the team’s most clutch hitters, stepped to the plate and the cheetah delivered once again.
After looking out of sync during the first two pitches of the AB Stallings started to battle. After fouling multiple pitches off, Stallings lined a Dylan Floro pitch into the left field corner for a double. This double scored all three Pirate base runners giving the Bucs a 5-3 lead that they would not relinquish.
More great bullpen work
Throughout the first 55 games of the 2021 season the bullpen has been a strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The strong early season work of the Pirate ‘pen continued in Thursday night’s victory as 3.2 scoreless innings of relief swept the table for the Pirate comeback.
While Holmes allowed both runners he inherited to score it was due to a silly base running decision by the Marlins that got their starting pitcher injured and a correctly placed softly hit ground ball. Holmes faced 6 batters in the win, retiring 3 of them.
Sam Howard then took over for Holmes with Miami runners on second and third with just 1 out in the 7th inning. Howard then induced a pair of ground balls, keeping the runners in place and preventing any further Marlin runs.
In the 8th and 9th inning Shelton went to his top two high leverage relievers – Kyle Crick and Richard Rodríguez. Both Crick and Rodríguez struggled in their most recent outing which was last Sunday when they combined to blow a lead in a loss against the Colorado Rockies. Thursday night, both Crick and Rodríguez were able to bounce back.
Crick issued a walk but retired the other 3 batters he faced in the 8th inning. In the 9th inning, Rodríguez allowed a tow-out single but retired the other 3 batters he faced on his way to picking up his 7th save of the season.
When the dust settled the Pirate bullpen allowed just 2 hits and walked a pair in 3.2 scoreless innings of work.
Game two of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Friday night. Mitch Keller (6.54 ERA, 4.49 FIP) will toe the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates looking to build upon 5 shutout innings in his last start. Righty Cody Poteet (2.95 ERA, 3.13 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Marlins.