Following an offensive explosion that was ignited by a Michael Chavis grand slam the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up their first victory of the season by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the win column for the 2022 season. Sunday afternoon the team out slugged the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4 to improve to 1-2 on the season. With the win the Pirates keep their hopes of salvaging a series split alive.
Despite finding themselves trailing 3-0 after the 1st inning the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to battle back for a comfortable victory. What was most encouraging about this victory was seeing young players step up and have a big day for the Pirates.
Bryse Wilson dances through early rain drops, finishes strong
Early on it looked like Bryse Wilson was going to be in deep trouble. His afternoon started by allowing a single, double, sacrifice fly, and then a home run to Nolan Arenado. Just like that, Wilson and the Pittsburgh Pirates were in a 3-0 hole.
To Wilson’s credit he would settle in and prevent further damage. With runners on the corners in the 2nd inning he got Paul Goldschmidtt to hit into an inning ending double play. Wilson would then retire 6 of the final 7 batters he faced. During his start he threw 66% of his pitches for strikes.
Wilson’s strong finish including him providing a much needed shutdown inning in the 3rd. After the Pirates scored 5 runs in the top half of the inning to take the lead, Wilson retired the Cardinals in order and the Bucs never looked back.
2022 will be a big season for Wilson. For the first time in his career he’ll get the opportunity to take the ball every five days as a MLB starting pitcher. Hopefully today will prove to be the start of a breakout season for Wilson.
Young Bucs shine at the plate, in the field
Making his first career start Diego Castillo did what he did throughout the spring – hit. Starting at second base Castillo was 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. He also made a spectacular play at second base to rob Yadier Molina of a lead off hit in the 7th inning.
Michael Chavis made the start at first base and ignited the Pirate offense. After singling in his first trip to the plate, he crushed a 3rd inning grand slam. His 1st home run of the season, the slam gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead that they would not surrender. He also drew a walk and hit a double in the game. Chavis also made multiple impressive stretches at first base to help record outs.
It would not be a Pirate game without Ke’Bryan Hayes highlights. In addition to starting the vital inning ending double play in the 2nd inning, Hayes also made two more spectacular plays at third base.
At the plate Hayes continued to hit the ball hard. He put a ball in play at 97.5 MPH and 105.2 MPH, both of which went for singles. This already gives Hayes three balls that have been hit at 105 MPH or higher.
Bullpen shuts the Cardinals down
After Wilson’s day ended Miguel Yajure made his first outing the season. Yajure pitched 2 scoreless, hitless innings, walking a batter and striking a batter out. What was most encouraging was Yajure’s velocity. His four-seamed fastball averaged 94 MPH which is up from where it was at the end of last season. Yajure looks healthy for the first time since last May. It would not be a surprise to see Yajure join the Pirate rotation sooner rather than later.
Heath Hembree allowed a run in the 7th inning but threw the ball well. Harrison Bader barely snuck a ball fair down the left field line to start the inning with a double. Tommy Edman then reached on an infield hit on which he was originally called out. Had Edman been out, the ensuring sacrifice fly that scored Bader would have been a fly out to end the inning.
Wil Crowe pitched the final 2 innings for and looked maybe the best he ever has with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Crowe struck out a pair while retiring each batter he faced. His fastball played up to the mid-to-high-90s and his slider looked wicked. It appears that Crowe has found a new home in the Pirate bullpen.
Jake Marisnick made his first start with the Pirates. He picked up a pair of hits, drove in a run and made a tremendous running catch in right field, showing why he leads all MLB outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved since he made his MLB debut.
While the Pirates will most likely lose a lot more games than they win this season games like this one are what will make the season enjoyable. Hayes had a big game in the field and at the plate, players such as Castillo and Chavis who could prove to be key pieces moving forward had big games. Watching Wilson settle in to go 4 strong after his shaky start, as well as Yajure looking healthy and Crowe continuing to show promise as a reliever were good to see too. Seeing these young players improve and take steps froward throughout the season is what 2022 will be all about for the Pirates.
Monday afternoon the Pirates and Cardinals will play the final game of the four-game wrap around series. Zach Thompson will make his Pirate debut as the team looks to split the series. St. Louis will counter with Dakota Hudson, who will be looking to pitch the Cardinals to a series victory.