Despite struggling mightily with runners in scoring position the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to defeat the Colorado Rockies on Monday night
Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates welcomed old friend Chad Kuhl and the Colorado Rockies to PNC Park for game one of a three-game series. Kuhl was looking to build upon a strong start to the season while proving to the Pirates that they gave up on him too early, while the Pirates were looking for a victory.
Both Kuhl and the Pirates were able to achieve their goal. Kuhl allowed just 1 run, while the Pirates went on to secure a 2-1 victory. With the win the Pirates improved to 17-24 on the season, dropping the Rockies to 19-21.
Another strong start for JT Brubaker
After having back-to-back poor starts to begin his season JT Brubaker has started to settle in for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Monday night Brubaker turned in his 7th consecutive strong start, with this one being his best of the season thus far.
Brubaker pitched 6.2 innings, allowing an unearned run on 5 this, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. The unearned run he allowed was due to a throwing error that Brubaker committed, however. It’s undoubtedly a throw Brubaker would love to have back.
From the get go Brubaker was in control. He needed just 20 pitches to get through the first 2 innings of the game and this was certainly a sign of things to come. He generated a game high 8 swings-and-misses and Rockie batters had an average exit velocity of just 80.8 MPH off of Brubaker.
In his last 7 starts Brubaker has allowed 14 earned runs in 35.1 innings pitched, which comes out to a 3.56 ERA. He’s allowed just 4 home runs, he’s walked 9.3% of batters faced and struck out 26.7%. It appears that Brubaker has found his stride and is on his way to becoming a solid starting pitcher for the Pirates.
Pirate offense struggles to hit with men on base
It did not take the Pittsburgh Pirates long to strike on offense. Ben Gamel walked to start the game, this was followed by a Ke’Bryan Hayes doubled and quickly the Pirates had the lead. After Bryan Reynolds walked it appeared that a big inning could be cooking with two on, no one out and the Pirates already ahead 1-0.
Daniel Vogelbach then hit a line drive that appeared to be ticketed for left field to score Hayes. However, Colorado shortstop Jose Iglesias made a tremendous play to take a hit away form Vogey. Yoshi Tsutsugo and Josh VanMeter then each flew out, starting a long night of struggles with men on base for the Pirates.
Jack Suwinski doubled with one out in the 2nd inning and was stranded. Josh VanMeter tripled with one out in the 4th inning and Rodolfo Castro walked before Castro was caught stealing and Suwinski popped out.
Bryan Reynolds grounded into a pair of double plays. Castro doubled to start the 7th inning, advanced to third base with one out when Charlie Blackmon made a terrific catch to rob Suwinski of a hit, but was then thrown out trying to score on a ground out by Michael Pérez.
Pittsburgh batters were just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Monday night. This led to the team leaving 8 runners on base.
Pirates scratch out a run in the 8th inning
While the Pirate offense struggled with runners on base it was not due to Hayes. In addition to his RBI double in the 1st inning, Hayes recorded a pair of singles and drew a walk in his four plate appearances.
The 3rd hit of the night by Hayes was a single to lead off the bottom of the 8th inning. With one out in the inning Hayes stole second base before moving to third base on a ground out by Vogelbach. Tsutsugo then reached on an infield hit to finally give the Pirates a hit with RISP, as well as giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Pirate bullpen slams the door
Wil Crowe took over for Brubaker in the 7th, inheriting two runners on base with two outs. Crowe got the final out of the inning, before also getting the first two outs of the 8th inning. Crowe lowered his ERA on the season to 2.42 with his outing.
David Bednar took over for Crowe after he issued a two-out walk in the 8th. Bednar got the final out of the 8th inning, which wound up putting him in line for a victory. While he had to work around a walk, Bednar slammed the door shut in the 9th to seal away the 2-1 Pirate victory.
Kyle Freeland (4.85 ERA, 3.92 FIP) is scheduled to start the second game of the series for Colorado. While, as of this writing, the Pirates have yet to officially announce a starter, all signs point toward top pitching prospect Roansy Contreras getting the ball. Contreras is expected to officially added ot the active roster tomorrow, and tomorrow would have been his turn to start for Triple-A Indianapolis. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.