The Pittsburgh Pirates were looking for their third win in a row, as well as a series victory when they played host to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night
After losing six games in a row the Pittsburgh Pirates have now won three in a row. Following a 2-1 walk off victory against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, the Pirates are now 32-53 on the season.
Entering this series it was discussed how the Pittsburgh Pirates could dictate the direction of the NL East entering the month of August. This is due to this series starting a stretch of 10 straight games against NL East teams between now and the first series following the All-Star Game.
As many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates will agree, defeating the Atlanta Braves will always feel good. Between that awful, horrible October night in 1992, as well as the Jerry Meals debacle in 2011, there will always be an axe to grind with Braves. Helping to put them further behind in their division will always feel good.
Chad Kuhl turns in his best start of the season
2021 has been a story of two seasons for Chad Kuhl. There is the pre-injured list season for Kuhl and the post-injured list season for Kuhl. Tuesday night, his post-injured list season continued to be a strong one.
Turning in his best start of the season Kuhl limited a strong Atlanta lineup to just 1 run on 4 hits allowed in 6 innings of work. The lone run Kuhl allowed came on a solo home run that was hit by Orlando Arcia.
The most encouraging sign from Kuhl was his control. Kuhl threw 62.8% of his pitches for strikes and did not walk a batter. Entering the start he had a 13.9% walk rate, which was the second-highest of his career, but since returning from the IL his walk rate is just 8.2%.
This start also lowered Kuhl’s ERA since coming off the IL to 4.10 while also raising his strikeout rate to 19.1%. With another strong start or two Kuhl could develop into an under-the-radar trade chip for the Pirates before the July 30 trade deadline.
Ke’Bryan Hayes is ‘punching back’
After Ke’Bryan Hayes went 2-for-5 with a home run in Monday night’s victory we mentioned in the postgame recap that Hayes appeared to be starting to ‘punch back’ against the league as former Prate manager Clint Hurdle would say. Well, the punch back from Hayes continued on Tuesday night.
Hayes was 2-for-4 with a walk in Tuesday night’s victory. He hit a pair of doubles, giving him 7 on the season, and his walk was a vital one. The walk Hayes drew came in the bottom of the 9th inning to load the bases with no one out to help set up the walk off victory for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Following his performance on Tuesday night Hayes is now hitting for a healthy .261/.338/.443 slash line on the season. His wRC+ has risen back to 115, he’s walking at a strong 10.8% rate and collecting extra base hits at a 9.2% rate.
9th inning rally leads the way to victory
Leading off the 9th inning Rodolfo Castro stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter. In his first at-bat after being recalled from Double-A earlier in the day, the switch hitting Castro drew a walk to start to set the table.
Following Castro’s walk Adam Frazier singled to left field. Hayes then had an excellent at-bat as he laid off multiple filthy sliders down and in as he drew a walk, loading the bases with no one out for the Bucs.
This set the table for 2021 NL All-Star Bryan Reynolds. After laying off a pitch that was close to the strike zone for ball one, Reynolds took three pitches that were nowhere close to the strike zone to draw a walk. The bases loaded walk gave Reynolds a walk off walk and the Pittsburgh Pirates a 2-1 victory.
Righty Wil Crowe (6.26 ERA, 5.84 FIP) will toe the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they look to complete the series sweep on Wednesday. Veteran lefty Drew Smyly (4.42 ERA, 5.14 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Braves. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 12:35 PM ET.