Pittsburgh Pirates: Offense Explodes Early, Team Hangs on in the 9th for 1-Run Victory

Wednesday night at PNC Park the Pirates made it back-to-back victories over the Washington Nationals

Sep 13, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Ji Hwan Bae (3)
Sep 13, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Ji Hwan Bae (3) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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The Pittsburgh Pirates offense exploded early, Quinn Priester's struggles continued, and the team found themselves hanging on in the 9th inning for a 1-run victory over the Washington Nationals

Early on in the night it appeared the Pittsburgh Pirates were well on their way to an easy victory. Well, due to the offense failing to do anything across the final 5 innings of the game, another bad outing from Quinn Priester, and a stressful 9th inning, the victory was anything but easy.

In the end, the Bucs held on for a 7-6 victory over the Washington Nationals. Their second win in as many nights over the Nats improves the Pirates to 68-78 on the season. It also puts them in position to win the series on Thursday afternoon.

Pirates spoil Jackson Rutledge's MLB debut

Right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge started for the Nationals and was making his MLB debut. In the 1st inning, the Pirates jumped all over the righty by scoring 4 runs while recording 6 hits off Rutledge in his first MLB inning.

Ji Hwan Bae singled on a ground ball to center field to start the inning, Bryan Reynolds blooped a single that was barely foul down the left field line, and Ke'Bryan Hayes doubled. The double by Hayes made the score 1-0 Pirates and proceeded Suwinski blooping a ball to almost the exact same spot Reynolds did.

Joshua Palacios ripped a 109 MPH missile to right field for a base hit. Liover Peguero singled on a line drive to center field. Just like that, the score was 4-1 Pirates.

It was the first time the Pirates had 6 or more hits in the 1st inning of a game sine August 2019 at Coors Field in Denver. Their 1st inning barraging also tied their season high for hits in an inning, after having a 6 hit inning in the 5th inning on August 22nd against the Cardinals and the 8th inning on July 1st against the Brewers.

Palacios singled again in the 3rd inning to continue his strong series against the Nats. Then with two outs in the inning, Alfonso Rivas doubled home Palacios to make the score 5-1. A 2-run home run by Reynolds in the 4th inning to make the score 7-1 and end Rutledge's night.

Of the next 15 Pirate batters following the Reynolds home run only two batters reached base, one of which was retired by a double play. Thankfully, this would not come back to bite the Bucs. Even though it looked like it would in the 9th, but we'll get to that later.

Quinn Priester returns to the majors

Making his first MLB appearance since August 14th, Quinn Priester worked as a bulk man for the Pirates. After Colin Selby served as the team's opener and allowed a run in the 1st inning, Priester would enter the game and his struggles would continue.

Priester retired the first 10 batters he faced before allowing a solo home run with one out in the 5th inning. After getting the final two outs of hte 5th inning, Priester failed to record an out in the 6th. Priester issued a walk to start the 6th inning, followed by a single and a 3-2 run home run. After allowing another single, Priester was lifted for Ryan Borucki.

In 4+ innings pitched Priester allowed 4 runs on four hits, two home runs, a walk, and four strikeouts. This outing actually lowered his ERA on the season to 9.09. It's only been 32.2 innings, but Priester has done absolutely nothing thus far to show he belongs in the majors. The way he has pitched in the minors the past two seasons contributes to this as well.

Things get hairy in the 9th inning... but David Bednar gets it done

Borucki came in and cleaned up Priester's 5th inning mess. He issued a walk, while pitching 1.1 hitless, scoreless innings of relief. Carmen Mlodzinski recorded a strikeout while getting the final two outs of the 7th inning and Colin Holderman pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning.

It looked like it would be another shutdown night for the big three emerging at the back end of the Pirate bullpen.

David Bednar took over in the 9th inning and was promptly greeted by an Alika Williams error when he dropped a pop out in foul territory. This led to a lead off walk, something Bednar will tell you was inexcusable but the batter should have already been out.

Then with runners on the corners and no one out Keibert Ruiz hit a ground ball to Rivas. On a play where, at worst, the Pirates should have gotten the lead runner at second base, Rivas took too long to get a throw off leading to everyone being safe.

After Bednar issued a walk to load the bases with just one out, The Renegade put his foot down. On a 3-2 pitch he challenged CJ Abrams with a 98 MPH fastbal in the strike zone that Abrams swung through for the second out of the inning. Bednar then got a fly out off the bat of Lane Thomas to end the game, picking up his 34th save.

Next up

Mitch Keller (4.23 ERA, 3.78 FIP) will start for the Pirates on Thursday afternoon as he looks to bounce back from a disastrous start in his last outing. Josiah Gray (4.13 ERA, 5.06 FIP) is set to start for the Nats. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 12:35 PM ET.

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