Johan Oviedo turned in a strong start the offense knocked around one of the best starting pitchers in the National League as the Pittsburgh Pirates blew out the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night
Maybe just maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates offense is starting to find their April groove once again. For the second game in a row the offense kncoked around one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, on their way to an 13-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With the win the Pirates have now won 3 of their last 4 games after going 1-11 in their previous 12 games. With these wins the Pirates are now 24-20 on the season. The win also moves the Bucs back into a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.
Pirates strike first, find success against one of the best pitchers in baseball
Somehwat quietly, Arizona starter Zac Gallen has developed into one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. Facing the tall task of going against Gallen on Friday night, the Pirate offense was able to strike first.
Carlos Santana doubled to start the 2nd inning, giving him three straight games with a double. Hopefully a sign that the slumping Santana is starting to heat up again. Santana's double was followed by one from Ke'Bryan Hayes that scored Santana to make it 1-0 Pirates.
The Pirates continued to grind out at-bats and get base runners against Gallen. In the 4th inning, the Pirate offense would strike again.
Tucupita Marcano walked with one out in the inning and went to third on a Ji Hwan Bae double. With the infield drawn in, Josh Palacios came through with his first hit as a Pirate. Palacios hit it through the left side of the infield and it was 3-1 Pirates.
After Palacios was issued an unintentional intentional walk his first trip to the plate and Gallen looking uninterested in giving him much to hit again, Palacios did an excellent job of hitting the pitch where it was thrown to get it through the infield for a pair of RBI.
After Austin Hedges reached on an error and Andrew McCutchen walked, Bryan Reynolds stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. After an abysmal strike 1 call by home plate umpire Chris Segal, Reynolds battled back to draw a walk to extend the Pirate lead to 4-1.
Jack Suwinski then came through with the big hit. The hit that broke the game open and gave the Pirates breathing room. Suwinski ripped a 2-run double into right field, extending their lead to 6-1. Hayes hit a 2-run single, making it 8-1 and ending Gallen's night.
Making Gallen look human has not been easy this season but the Pirate did just that. Gallen issued three walks in his first start of the season and had only issued two walked in a game once since then. Firday night marked the first time he walked at least four batters in a game since August 31st, 2021. The 8 runs that Gallen allowed were a new career high. The outing rose Gallen's ERA on the season from 2.35 to 2.80.
After roughing up Tiger ace Eduardo Rodriguez in Wednesday's victory, this marks the second consecutive game in which a struggling Pirate offense knocked around one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Encouraging signs that the Pirate offense may finally be breaking out of their prolonged slump.
Their 7 run 4th inning was one unike any the Pittsburgh Pirates have had in a long time. It was the most runs the Pirates have scored in a single inning since they plated 8 runs in the 8th inning on Ocotber 1st, 2021 against the Reds.
Another big factor was the Pirates getting into Arizona's bullpen. Getting into a team's bullpen in the 4th inning in game one of a series is always a huge plus, it's an even bigger plus when that team's ace was pitching and the following day they plan to send a pitcher with an ERA north of 8 to the mound.
Second consecuitve strong start from Johan Oviedo
After allowing 13 earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched the previous two starts, Johan Oviedo pitched into the 6th inning allowing just 1 run against a very strong Baltimore Oriole lineup in his previous start. Facing another strong lineup on Friday night, Oviedo turned in another strong outing.
Bryan Reynolds pulling out of his run production slump
Believe it or not, prior to his bases loaded walk in the 4th inning Bryan Reynolds had not drive in a run since April 30th. Furthermore, Reynolds entered the game without a home run since the home opener on April 7th.
In addition to his RBI drought the home run drought also ended for Reynolds on Friday night. Batting right-handed, Reynolds launched a 3-run home run in the 5th inning. His 6th home run of the season made it 11-1 Pirates.
Pitching in front of his parents in Pittsburgh for the first time since joining the Pirates, Oviedo held a strong Diamondback lineup to just 1 run in 6 innings pitched. The lone run Oviedo allowed was a solo home run in the 2nd inning, the first home run he has allowed since his 1st inning of the season, on what was a really good pitch but just a better piece of hitting by Geraldo Perdomo.
Outside of this solo home run, Oviedo was borderline dominant. He allowed just one other hit, he walked three batters and struck out six. Oviedo threw a sinker in the game for a first time, and generated 7 swings-and-misses. Outside of that poor two strat stretch earlier this month, Oviedo owns a 2.66 ERA this season.
Duane Underwood Jr. exits with injury
Dunae Underwood Jr. was summoned to pitch the 7th inning. With the Pirates leading 11-1, Udnerwood Jr. issued back-to-back walks to start the inning. The ultimate no no for a pitcher with a big lead.
After a bizzare missed infield fly pop up play that saw Underwood Jr. take a tumble trying to cover third base, Derek Shelton and the Pirate training staff came out to check on Underwood Jr. This led to Underwood Jr. being removed from the game with an apparent injury.
Due to his struggles in recent outings, odds seem pretty high that Underwood Jr. will find himself on the injured list. If this does happen, odds are either Cody Bolton or Colid Selby will be promoted to replace Underwood Jr. in the bullpen.
Game two of the series is slated to see Pirate ace Mitch Keller (2.38 ERA, 2.63 FIP) take the mound. Keller will be looking to stay red hot after tossing a complete game shutout and 7 shutout innings in his last two starts. Arizona plans to send struggling righty Brandon Pfaadt (8.59 ERA, 9.23 FIP) to the mound. Weather permitting, first pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET.