Rich Hill continues to pitch well, Ke'Bryan Hayes remains red hot at the plate, and the offense woke up with runners in scoring position as the Pittsburgh Pirates blasted the New York Mets to start their three-game series
As fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates know all too well when it rains it can absolutely pour for a club. Well, right now, the Pirates are playing one of those clubs. In fact, the Pirates may have taken that downpour and turned it into a complete monsoon.
Following a 14-7 victory for the Pirates on Friday night, the Mets have now lost 7 games in a row. More importantly, it was a huge bounce back victory for the Pirates after dropping the final two games of their series against the A's. With the win, the Pirates are now 33-29 on the season.
A huge factor in the Pirate victory was the team's work with runners in scoring position. After going a woeful 4-for-31 in their embarassing series loss against the Oakland A's, Pirate batters bounced back to go 7-for-11 with RISP.
Bucs strike back in the 2nd, follow it with a huge 3rd inning
After falling in an early 1-0 hole, the Pirate offense would quickly respond.
Ke’Bryan Hayes singled with one out in the 2nd and Ji Hwan Bae drew a walk. After Josh Palacios flew out to the wall in center field, featuring a strong catch by Brandon Nimmo, things looked bleak with two outs and Austin Hedges at the plate.
During the Hedges at-bat, Hayes and Bae executed a double steal. This proved vital as Hedges blooped a flare shot to shallow right field that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Due to the double steal, thus plated a pair of runs instead of a single run to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
A Francisco Lindor home run tied the game in the top of the 3rd inning but the Pirate offense would once again punch right back.
Andrew McCutchen picked up a one out infield hit for his 1,999th career hit. Lindor then booted a routine double play ball off the bat of Carlos Santana. After Jack Suwinski walked to load the bases, Hayes ripped his second hit of the night into left field.
The hit by Hayes plated a pair, making the score 4-2 Pirates, and put Suwinski on third base. The headsy base running by Suwinski to go first to third proved big as it led to Bae laying down a bunt that scored Suwinski easily. On the bunt. Eduardo Escobar fired the ball into the right field corner. Escobar's error allowed Hayes to also scored and put Bae on third base.
With the infield now drawn in, Palacios snuck a ball under the glove of a diving Jeff McNeil. A feel good hit for Palacios after he was not rewarded for driving a ball to center field in his first at-bat, scored Bae and made the score 7-2 Pirates.
The Pirates got plenty of help from the Mets in the 3rd inning. But, to their credit, the Pirate batters jumped all over the Met miscues and made them pay. Seeing an inning like that from the Pirates is always great, seeing an inning like that happen to the Mets is great. A win-win!
Pirates chase Tylor Megill in the 4th
After Met starter Tylor Megill quickly got the first two outs of the 4th inning, things quickly went south on him.
McCutchen drew a walk and Satana singled to right field. This led to Megill being lifted for lefty Zach Muckenhirn. Despite the Mets going to a left on left matchup, Suwinski hit a 114 MPH rocket off the center field wall for a double. Hayes followed with a double of his own, giving him four RBI on the night making the score 10-4 Pirates.
The Hayes double closed the book on Megill. In 3.2 innings pitched Megill allowed 9 runs, 5 earned, on eight hits and three walks.
Rich Hill started for the Pirates and continued to do what he has done for most of the season. Once again, Hill took the ball and pitched well for the Pirates. He gave up a run in the 2nd and the solo home run by Lindor in the 3rd, but that was it.
Hill also showed off incredible athleticism for anyone, let alone a 43-year-old, to start an inning ending 1-6-3 double play in the 4th inning. Most importantly, it came after the Pirate offense erupted in the bottom of the 3rd and kept momentum on their side.
Hill pitched 6 innings on Friday night. He allowed just the 2 runs mentioned above on seven hits, a home run, two walks, and six strikeouts. This outing lowered his ERA on the season 4.23 in 72.1 innings pitched. Hill's 7 innings pitched was a new season high, as were 119 pitches, 72 of which he threw for strikes.
Hill's 119 pitches were the second most he's thrown in a start in his career. It was also the most thrown by a pitcher in Major League Baseball this season, surpassing fellow 40+ year old Jsutin Verlander. It was also the first times since 2012 when James McDonald did the feat that a Pirate pitcher threw at least 119 pitches in a start.
The veteran had a bad 1st inning in his season opening start. He got shelled by the Chicago White Sox in the Pirate home opener. Since then, Hill has pitched 63.1 innings in 11 starts posting a 3.42 ERA.
More offense in the 8th inning
Santana led off the bottom of the 8th inning with his 3rd home run and his first since the Pirate home opener on April 7th. Suwinski followed with his third hit of the night, this one was also a solo home run to give him 12 on the night. This capped off a game that saw Suwinski get two hits off a lefty in the same game for the first time in his career.
Following Suwinski's home run Hayes flared a base hit to right field. This made Hayes 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles. It also marked the second time in his young career that Hayes has gone 5-for-5 in a game. In the last eight games Hayes has raised his batting average from .216 to .266.
Something to watch
After Rob Zastryzny pitched a scoreless 8th inning he took the mound again in the 9th. With runners on the corner and two outs in the inning he was lifted for David Bednar who Derek Shelton was looking to get some work in for.
Well, Bednar got the final out of the game but allowed two hits and had a batter reach on an error in the process. The error was on a missed fly ball by Canaan Smith-Njigba and was the second error of the inning for the Pirates after Bae booted a gorund ball with Zastryzny on the mound. Bednar was forced to throw 20+ pitches in a game the Pirates could have thrown a position player in and got the final out. This could be notable because if Bednar is needed tomorrow, he will almost assuredly be unavailable on Sunday.
Johan Oviedo (4.29 ERA, 4.07 FIP) is slated to start for the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Righty Kodai Senga (3.75 ERA, 4.20 FIP) will make his first ever start against the Pirates. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET.