Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Gamel Stays Hot, Chase De Jong Goes 5 Strong in Win

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 05: Ben Gamel #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with John Nogowski #69 after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning during the game against the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park on July 5, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 05: Ben Gamel #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with John Nogowski #69 after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning during the game against the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park on July 5, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Final. 11. 4. 1. 17

Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates rode a four-run 6th inning, the hot bat of Ben Gamel and 5 strong innings from Chase De Jong to a victory over the Atlanta Braves

Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped a six game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Monday night the Pirates kicked off a three-game series at PNC Park against the Atlanta Braves, looking to make it back-to-back wins.

Following a big 6th inning on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to secure their second victory in as many days. With their 11-1 victory over the Braves the Pirates are now 31-53 on the season.

Monday night also started a stretch of play in which the Pirates could have a say in what the NL East race looks like entering August. Following this three-game series against the Braves, the Pirates will play a four-game series against the New York Mets. Following the All-Star Break the Pirates will play three against the Mets. This 10 game stretch will give the Pirates the opportunity to play a role in setting the scene for the NL Central entering August.

Chase De Jong rallies to go 5 strong

In the top of the 1st inning it appeared that Pirate starting pitcher Chase De Jong would be lucky to go more than 2 or 3 innings. De Jong needed 36 pitches to get through the 1st inning and he stranded the bases loaded.

After the 1st inning, De Jong would settle in.

After De Jong allowed a single, double, walked a batter and hit a batter in the 1st inning, he allowed just four base runners the rest of his outing. When De Jong’s night ended he allowed just 1 run on 4 hits, 3 walks, he hit a batter and he struck out 4 in 5 innings of work.

All in all it was a strong start for De Jong. He generated 10 swings-and-misses in his 5 innings of work, and allowed just four base runners while throwing just 56 pitches in 4 scoreless innings of work in his final 4 innings of work.

With Max Kranick having pitched 5 no-hit innings in his MLB debut and Mitch Keller pitching well since being demoted to Triple-A, De Jong is in need of stringing some strong starts together to remain in the Pirate starting rotation. A strong start is exactly what he gave the Pirates on Monday night, especially considering how things looked after the 1st inning.

Ben Gamel stays hot

In the last week or so no hitter has been hotter at the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates than outfielder Ben Gamel. This hot stretch from Gamel has come at the perfect time as it is turning him into an under-the-radar trade chip for the Pirates.

Monday night the recent hot stretch for Gamel continued. In the 4th inning with a runner on base Gamel hit a 105.5 MPH rocket to straight away center field. When the ball landed it did so I the center field bushes, resulting in a 421-foot home run for Gamel.

Gamel’s 5th home run of the season was a 2-run blast. This home run gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 4th inning. Then in the bottom of the 6th inning, facing an 0-2 count, Gamel ripped a doubled off the Clemente Wall. This gave Gamel two extra base hits against left-handed starter Max Fried and a pair of RBI on the night.

Gamel was not done, however. Gamel launched a 103 MPH missile to center field in the bottom of the 7th inning. When the ball landed it was a 421-foot, 3-run home run for Gamel. His 2nd home run of the night, and 6th of the season, gave Gamel a career high 6 RBI and the Pirates a 9-1 lead.

Four-run 6th inning allows Pirates to pull away

After Clay Holmes pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 6th inning, the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the bottom half of the inning leading 2-1. In this half inning they would grow their lead on their way to solidifying their victory.

All-Star Bryan Reynolds reached on an infield hit to start the inning which was followed by the 15th double of the season from Jacob Stallings. In his first start with the Pirates, John Nogowski, who was acquired from the Cardinals over the weekend, then ripped a run-scoring single to left field. This was followed by the aforementioned Gamel double, putting runners on second and third with no one out and giving the Pirates a 4-1 lead. This was part of an impressive Pirate debut for Nogowski who went 2-for-4 with a walk and a RBI.

Facing ex-Pirate Edgar Santana, Kevin Newman struck out for the first out of the inning. Phillip Evans then hit a ground ball up the third base line. While Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley was Abel to throw Evans out it still allowed Nogowski to score from third base, making the score 5-1 Pirates.

Following the Evans ground out Gregory Polanco drew a pinch hit walk. With Adam Frazier batting, Gamel scored on a passed ball that should have been ruled a wild pitch. With the Pirates now leading 6-1, Frazier was intentionally walked and Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to load the bases with two outs. Reynolds then struck out to end the inning.

Ke’Bryan Hayes starts to get back on track

Entering play on Monday night Hayes was stuck in the biggest rut of his young MLB career. Hayes was 1 for his last 25 entering the night, but he may have started to right the ship in the 11-1 victory.

Hayes picked up a single in the 6th inning and then hit an opposite field home rune in the 8th inning. The 2-run home run from Hayes was his 4th of the season and extended the Pirate lead to 11-1.

As Clint Hurdle used to say when a young player such as Hayes starts out hot the league will punch back. Now it’s time for Hayes to punch back, hopefully, Monday night was the start of Hayes punching back.

Next. Canaan Smith-Njigba Heating up at Double-A. dark

What’s next?

Chad Kuhl (5.16 ERA, 5.65 FIP) who has pitched much better since returning from the injured list is scheduled to start for the Pirates on Tuesday night. The Braves plan to send righty Ian Anderson (3.35 ERA, 3.38 FIP) to the mound. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.