The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off the second half of their 2021 season with a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Friday night
While the 2021 season has not gone well on the field for the Pittsburgh Pirates they have been able to be a thorn in the side of the New York Mets. After splitting a four-game series in the Queens with the NL East leading Mets last weekend, the Pirates were 4-1 victors on Friday night I the first game of their three-game weekend series at PNC Park.
With the win, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 3-2 against the Mets this season. Overall, the Pirates now own a 35-56 record. Friday night’s victory was also one of the most feel good victories of the season thus far for the Pirates.
The game featured a 39 minute rain delay in the 2nd inning. The delay game when the Pirates had the bases loaded and just one out. To the credit of the Bucs, when the delay ended Adam Frazier flared a 2-run single to left field to give them a 2-0 lead. There was also a benches clearing incident on Friday night and any time you come out victorious in a game that features the benches clearing that win always feels extra satisfying.
Another strong start for Chad Kuhl
Chad Kuhl took the ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates to kick off the team’s post-All-Star Break schedule. Friday night Kuhl took the ball and gave the Pirates 5 strong innings as he continued his recent run of success.
While Kuhl struggled with fastball command on Friday night, leading to 5 walks, he limited the Mets to just a pair of hit. Kuhl also struck out 3 Met batters on his way to allowing just 1 unearned run in his 5 innings of work.
Kuhl was able to work out of jams most of the night. In the 2nd inning the Mets had runners on first and second with no one out and Kuhl stranded both runners. Kuhl escaped a similar jam after issuing back-to-back walks to start the top of the 3rd inning.
Another impressive facet of Kuhl’s outing was his ability to not just remain in the game after a 39 minute rain delay, but to remain in the game and pitch well. Tip of the cap to Kuhl for setting the tone for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Kuhl has now pitched at least 5 innings in his last 5 starts. In this 5 start stretch Kuhl has allowed just 6 earned runs on 18 hits, 12 walks, 22 strikeouts and just a pair of home runs allowed in 27.1 innings of work. Right now, Kuhl is pitching some of the best baseball of his MLB career.
The legend of John Nogowski continues to grow
At the plate John Nogowski was just 1-for-4 on Friday night. This did include scoring a run in the team’s 2-run 2nd inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against the Mets.
What happened I the 5th inning, however, led to the legend of the Big Nogowski continuing to grow.
With a runner in scoring position and two outs Nogowski lined out to second base. Already frustrated with having hit the ball well with a RISP but still making an out, Nogowski took offense to Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman reacting the way he did.
Nogowski began to bark back at Stroman leading to the two players getting into a shouting match and the benches clearing. With Nogowski charging at Stroman and yelling at him, Stroman became so terrified he puked and was forced to exit his start after just 5 innings.
Slowly but surely the Big Nogowski is becoming a cult hero to yinzers far and wide.
Long ball powers the Pirate offense
With the Pirates leading 2-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning Wilmer Difo cranked a solo home run. His 2nd home run of the season gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead and continued his sneaky good season. After going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, Difo is now hitting for a strong .280/.342/.421 slash line to go with a 110 wRC+ of the season.
While Difo’s strong season has come as a surprise, the bounce back season that Bryan Reynolds is having has not come as a surprise. The starting center fielder for the National League in the All-Star Game also picked up a pair of hits including a home run in the victory.
The solo home run Reynolds hit came in the 7th inning and set the final at 4-1 Pirates. This home run already gives Reynolds a new career high in home runs with 17 on the season, to go with a .305/.391/.520 slash line and a 150 wRC+. While it would never happen due to the Pirates being a last place team, Reynolds is putting up MVP type numbers this season.
More great bullpen work
A huge factor in the Pirate victory, as has been the case many times this season, was the work of the Buccos bullpen. In relief of Kuhl, Pirate relievers allowed just a single hit, walked 3 and struck out 4 in 4 scoreless innings of work.
Chasen Shreve started the night by recording a strikeout and a pair of outs, but he also walked a batter and allowed a base knock. Chris Stratton then picked up Shreve by recording the final out of the 6th inning.
Austin Davis pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning and Pittsburgh native David Bednar tossed a scoreless 8th to set the table for a Richard Rodríguez save in the 9th. While Rich Rod issued a rare walk, he retired the other three batters he faced to pick up his 13th save of the season.
Wil Crowe (6.05 ERA, 5.82 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Pirates in game two of the series on Saturday night. Righty Tylor Megill (3.50 ERA, 4.11 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Mets. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.