Saturday’s game started off looking like it was going to be a high scoring battle, but then quickly settled.
Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the game by hammering a hanging curveball 440 FT to center field for his first home run of the season to give the Pittsburgh Pirates an early 1-0 lead.
The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t wait long to counter, as Pirates starter Roansy Contreras gave up hits to the first three batters he faced, and by the end of the inning the Cardinals had a 2-1 lead.
In the third inning, Cardinals’ starter Steven Matz walked the bases loaded, before then walking in the tying run. From there, it turned into another pitching duel that has so far been the case in the first three games.
The Pirates hitters weren’t really able to muster much — once again — against the left-handed starter. Even with Matz issuing five walks, the offense managed only three hits while striking out six times.
Contreras settled down after the first, and ended up throwing six innings. As should be expected, he leaned heavily on his fastball-slider combo, throwing the two pitches a combined 70 times out of 87 pitches.
In the fifth inning, the Cardinals had a runner on third with one out. Contreras got Paul Goldschmidt to line out to Hayes, who made a fantastic individual play to then step on third after catching the liner for an inning ending double-play.
Contreras finished strong, whiffing all three hitters he faced in the sixth, and ending his night with a 2-2 tie.
The Pirates looked to push across a run in the seventh when Jason Delay led off the inning with a double. Unfortunately he decided to try and make it to third on a Hayes groundball, and was subsequently thrown out rather easily. Hayes then proceeded to get picked off of first base, and the inning ended shortly thereafter on a Bryan Reynolds strike out.
Rob Zastryzny came in for the bottom half of the seventh, and it quickly got out of hand. Battling to find the strike zone, Zastryzny ended up leaving the game with only one out after walking the bases loaded. In came Robert Stephenson who did his best to limit the damage by striking out the first batter he faced, but then walked the next batter to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Stephenson was able to keep it a one-run game getting the next batter to ground out.
To the eighth, Conner Joe singled with two outs, and the Cardinals bench coach — manager Carlos Marmol had been tossed earlier in the game — decided to bring in hard-throwing closer Ryan Helsley for a four out save. Rodolfo Castro would have none of it, and sawed off a 100 MPH fastball down the left field line, that would tie the game at three with Joe wheeling around the bases.
Colin Holderman stepped to the mound, and finished the Cardinals in quick order on only 11 pitches and two strike outs. David Bednar took the ninth, in a tie game, and himself sat down the hitters on 11 pitches with one strike out and sent the game to extras.
Andrew McCutchen got to face Jordan Hicks once again, and this time decided to go with only sliders. Hicks threw seven sliders, all at the top of the zone, and on the seventh Cutch got ahold of it for a two-run shot to left field — scoring the extra innings runner on second. Knowing that no lead is ever too safe, Joe tripled with one out, and was once again knocked in by Castro, who hit lined a single off of Goldschmidt’s glove.
With a three run lead, and Bednar having already been used, Derek Shelton went with Dauri Moreta to finish things off. He had another eventful and heart skipping inning, but was able to close it out for a 6-3 win, and assuring at least a series split in St. Louis.
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.
We haven’t been over .500 on 4/16 since 2019. We beat Detroit in 10 innings that day with a lineup of Frazier, Marte (HR), Cervelli, Bell, Melky , Kang (HR), Shuck, Pablo Reyes (in LF with an outfield assist at home) and Erik Gonzales . Musgrove started, Kela with the win, Kingham with the save
Ahhh, Jay Bell. Good times…
It’s a nice start and I’m delighted they’re winning. But I’m not gonna get too excited at this point.
After their 13-0 start. the Rays had their first series against a team >.500. They’ve now lost 2 in a row.
The Pirates are now the only team in MLB that hasn’t faced a team >.500.
Of course the pirates winning has contributed to that fact.
Bos is two over against everyone but the Pirates.
Houston, white Sox, and cardinal are all expected to be good teams, so it’s not like they are beating teams that are expected to be horrible.
Thats’ right! Chip Carey on the Cardinals broadcast made that “not playing a team over .500” point two games in a row and I cringed. The Pirates had three games against the defending world champion Astros, a team that has been in four of the last six World Series and went into Fenway and swept a three games series. The Red Sox may not be good as usual in 2023 but I doubt they’ll be swept at home too many times. Also the point you make about the White Sox and Cardinals is a good one.
That team went 60-87 the rest of the way.
Which is exactly why you can’t get too fired up until they are over .500 at the 100 game mark.
Yeah let’s also remember that the 2021 abomination was 13-12 at a much later point in the early season.
If Castro locks down a permanent role in the IF (almost certainly 2B) and Bae establishes himself as JHay2.0, what do we do with Gonzales? If this team is 50-50 with Castro/Bae established and NGon is playing well as AAA I’d absolutely be in favor of moving him as the centerpiece to get controllable starting pitching. I’d also consider him for an OF with control assuming none of the generic prospects (CSN/Suwy/Mitchell/Swag) establish themselves as 2 win players
IMO, he is not what you might call a “centerpiece” of a trade. The Pirates are loaded at the 2B position and the guys ahead of him, Castro, Bae, Marcano, are all 2B and Utility players able to play 2 or 3 other positions. Castro is even more unique in that he does the utility defensively, and is also a switchhitter.
My thought is that Castro and Bae are keepers, and Marcano and Gonzales could be in play at the trade deadline to enhance our return, leaving guys like Liover Peguero, Jared Triolo, Maikol Escotto, and Termarr Johnson as future IF/Util players. Let’s not forget Endy also plays C, 1B, 2B, and is also a switchhitter.
Hes going to be a career minor leaguer if he doesn’t cut down in the whiffs.
Probably release him if he continues the amount of K he has been bringing with his amazing “hit” tool. He is in no shape at all to be taking anyone’s job at this point, or being useful trade bait
I think Nick needs to figure out first what to do with himself.
That’s where it all starts – between his ears! His primary marching order leaving 2022 was to work on his contact – cut down the number of K’s. But, so far, his K Rate is 5+% higher in AAA (62 PA/21K = 33.9%) than what it was in AA.
Thanks to a monster game yesterday, 4-5 with 3 EBH, Gonzales’s OPS is at .900. Before his call-up yesterday, Marcano’s OPS at AAA was 1.147. At the MLB level Castro has played 2B, 3B, SS and has an OPS of .962. Bae has played 2B, SS, CF and has not hit as well as Castro, but has endeared himself to the team/fans with his play in CF, and a game winning 3 run HR in the past week.
It’s early, but the Pirates 2B position has gone from a position of doubt to a position of strength and leadership.
We’re two weeks in and you’re calling it a strength? Too early for that.
Fun team to watch. I love Castro.
Good Ro today, if we chill with good Ro, good Mitch, and Good Oviedo, we could be cooking something here
I’ll see your three “goods”, and raise you a respectable RH, a mercurial VV and (later this year) a beginner’s luck QP 😋
Oviedo and Ro are still in the “I can’t fully trust them yet” phase, but so far so good
all young pitchers are in that phase
Its a big IF lol
play of the game surely goes to Stephenson
nice start dude
Not sure how long this is going to last, but this season sure is fun so far.
We just need to never wake up!
is it safe to say that Castro is playing better than Cruz was playing before he got hurt?
No, Cruz was drawing walks and stealing bases and doing just fine at short.
Excellent point about drawing walks – after 2022, both Cruz and Castro were advised to work on their BB/K rate. At the time of his injury, Cruz was 7/8 BB/K and after yesterday’s game, Castro is 5/9 BB/K.
Castro started slow, but now has a slash of 344/462/500/962 OPS. He and Bae have been much better than expected for two kids still in their age 24 seasons. Castro is a lock to reach his first full year of MLB Service entering the season with 127 of the needed 172; Bae entered 2023 with just 13 days of MLB Service, so he would have to remain in MLB for almost the entire season to reach 172.
Would much rather have Castro manning 2B and Cruz at SS
Castro is an exciting 2b, not so much as a shortstop though if he hits 25 homers ….
Well with Cruz at SS & Castro at 2B could have 55 between the 2