The Pittsburgh Pirates took game one of the day by a score of 6-3, which Tim Williams touched on while expanding on Rodolfo Castro and his season thus far.
Miguel Andujar — recently added to the 40-man — started the scoring in game one with a RBI single in the second inning that scored Conner Joe.
Then in the fourth inning, Joe took Nationals starter Patrick Corbin deep for a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half, Rich Hill was looking to work out of a runners on the corners with no outs jam. He struck out two batters before Riley Adams hit a two-run double to tie up the game.
Having been called up during a hot streak in Indianapolis, Andujar wants everyone to understand it wasn’t a fluke. In the sixth, with a runner on second and two outs, Miguel got to wear the celebration jacket for the first time when he went deep for a two-run homer and 4-2 lead.
The Nationals would add a third run in the bottom of the sixth, by way of a lead-off triple and then ground out. That would be the final run against Rich Hill, who ended the night throwing 6.1 innings with three runs — two earned — against. He gave up eight hits and no walks, while striking out five batters.
The Pirates pushed the score to 6-3 in the eighth with an Austin Hedges bases loaded walk, and then Bryan Reynolds sacrifice fly.
The bullpen handled the game the rest of the way after Hill left, with mostly the usual suspects. Robert Stephenson has been a quality beginning to the season since returning from injury. He finished off the seventh by sitting down the two batters he faced on a strike out and fly out.
Colin Holderman came out for the eighth, and sat down all three batters he faced. David Bednar entered with a three-run lead in the ninth, and also sat down all three batters he faced, two by strike out.
In game two, the Pirates manhandled former Bucco Chad Kuhl and the Nationals, to extend their winning streak to four games and go twelve games over .500.
Ke’Bryan Hayes began the game with a double, as he has been doing a lot of lately since moving to lead-off, and eventually scored on a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly for an early 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, Joe led off with a walk, and eventually came around himself on a sacrifice fly by Jason Delay. The game then took off in the next two innings.
Bryan Reynolds was up first in the third inning, and hit a double. With one out, Santana and Jack Suwinski hit back-to-back doubles pushing the score to 4-0. In the fourth inning, Reynolds hit a two-run double, followed by an Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly, and then a Santana RBI single that chased Chad Kuhl from the game with the Pirates up 8-0.
The Pirates decided to take a breath in the fifth inning, but come the sixth, Jack Suwinski came up with the bases loaded and hit a majestic grand slam 444 feet that left the bat at 114 MPH. This gave the Pirates a 12-0 lead.
Lost in all of the offense was Vince Velasquez’s second consecutive scoreless outing. He tossed six innings while only allowing five hits and striking out five batters. He and Oscar Marin have seemingly found the perfect mix of his slider-fastball combo. 81 of his 92 pitches — 70% of his pitches went for strikes — were either slider or fastball. He is now 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA.
If you thought the Pirates were done with Velasquez out of the game and a 12-0 lead, you’d be wrong.
Delay was feeling light as a feather, and hit a triple to begin the seventh. With the game out of hand, Derek Shelton opted to bring in Drew Maggi. In the seventh pitch of the at bat, he ripped a single to center for not only his first career hit, but also his first career RBI.
In a continuation of career firsts, rookie and recent call-up Cody Bolton entered the game, flashing a fastball-sweeper combo. He flashed 95 on the fastball, and generated six whiffs across two innings, allowing only one hit and striking out one.
One of the fun parts through the 2023 season so far, has been being on the opposite end of position-players pitching. Outfielder Lane Thomas took the mound for the Nationals, and the Pirates padded their lead. Maggi collected his second hit of the night, and first career extra-base hit with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Then a revitalized Andujar — who had entered in the seventh after Maggi — took the opposing outfielder on the mound deep for a three-run shot for his second homer of the day.
The Nats finally got on the board themselves with a solo shot off of Yohan Ramirez. That proved to be the final run in a 16-1 contest.
The Pirates enter Sunday’s contest with a 20-8 record.
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.
The amazing thing about VV is that prior to this year, his slider was a terrible pitch. Hitters feasted on it. Now, it’s his best pitch. He has ditched the cutter (which was equally terrible), and is basically a two pitch pitcher, with the occasional change. There has to be something different about how he is throwing the slider.
So, April has been what it feels like to watch a hundred-something-teen win team…. I like it. 😋
A month like this feels especially refreshing after several straight tanktastic seasons. I hope they can keep this ball rolling!
What’s that? +53 lol
Best record in NL AND best run differential in NL!
Ranked 14th best team in baseball by ESPN. And they call themselves the sports leader. More like the sports dipshits!
They fixed Pythagoras!
I was wondering last night if they plan to put them on Sunday Night Baseball any time soon. I’m skeptical.