The Pirates completed a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend, extending their current win streak to five games. Next, they welcome the Oakland Athletics into town, owners of a 12-49 record.
The Pirates will start today with Johan Oviedo on the mound. The bullpen was used a lot over the weekend, and David Bednar was used three days in a row. While no MLB team offers an easy path to victory, this is probably the best time that the Pirates could be playing the worst team in baseball. If Oakland wins one game, they raise their winning percentage over the Mendoza line. It’s entirely possible that Austin Hedges could end this series with a higher batting average than Oakland’s winning percentage.
Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that the Pirates have done a complete 180 from that level of play. Here are the daily previews, with results below after the games.
PIRATES (31-27) VS ATHLETICS
Game Time: 7:05 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Johan Oviedo, RHP (3-4, 4.50)
Athletics Starter: JP Sears, LHP (0-3, 4.37)
Let's have ourselves another home series.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 5, 2023
📍 Pitt stop pic.twitter.com/lvfKzVmi0d
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) June 5, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS (28-28) OFF
ALTOONA (27-22) OFF
GREENSBORO (26-23) OFF
6/4: Braxton Ashcraft Showing Velocity and Control in Return From Tommy John
6/2: Abrahan Gutierrez Hitting Ground Running Returning From Injury
5/26: Anthony Solometo Faces Two Top 100 Prospects In Greensboro
BRADENTON (27-24) OFF
Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
Projected Starter: Hung-Leng Chang, RHP (2023 Debut)
DSL PIRATES BLACK
Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
Projected Starter: Clevari Tejada, RHP (Pro Debut)
DSL PIRATES GOLD
Game Time: 12:00 PM EST
Projected Starter: Pitterson Rosa, RHP (2023 Debut)
DAILY PIRATES NEWS
If you missed it from last night, the Pirates promoted Henry Davis to Indianapolis. I wrote a column yesterday about Davis, Endy Rodriguez, and the future of the catching position in Pittsburgh.
Anthony Murphy looked at the wheels that could be put in motion following the Davis promotion. The most intriguing to me is the likelihood of Abrahan Gutierrez moving up to Altoona.
More Recent Pirates Features
Check back at the end of the night for all of the daily results throughout the system, or, join the discussion in the comments if you’re following Live.
Final Score: Pirates 5, Athletics 4
Player of the Game: Andrew McCutchen, DH (0-for-1, 3 BB, SF, 2 RBI)
Recap: Andrew McCutchen didn’t record a single hit in tonight’s win against the Athletics, but he had some of the most pivotal at-bats during the game. McCutchen drew walks in the first and fifth innings, but it was his walk in the sixth that helped the Pirates come back against Oakland. After three straight balls from Shintaro Fujinami, who was having control issues in the sixth, McCutchen took a strike, then fouled off three different 101 MPH pitches. The final pitch was a 102.1 MPH fastball that was called ball four at the bottom of the zone. McCutchen walked, bringing in a run. Bryan Reynolds would walk one batter later to tie the score at 3-3. The Pirates took a lead when Athletics right fielder Seth Brown threw to third on a sacrifice fly, rather than trying to throw out Austin Hedges at the plate.
Hedges had himself a big day. His defensive skills were on display throughout the game, but the weak hitting catcher came up big on the offensive side. His walk in the sixth inning loaded the bases for McCutchen. With a tie game in the bottom of the eighth, Hedges singled to put runners at first and third. That opened the door for McCutchen to hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly, scoring Ji-Hwan Bae from third.
Johan Oviedo ran into trouble early, giving up three runs in the first three innings. One was unearned. He settled down and ended up going seven innings with just those three runs on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. The Pirates gave up their 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning when Rob Zastryzny led off the frame with a walk and a double. After a one out walk, the Pirates brought in Angel Perdomo, who was able to close out the inning, putting himself in line for his first win of the year.
With David Bednar out after pitching the last three days, the Pirates turned to Colin Holderman in the ninth. Holderman made it interesting, but Hedges kept things steady. After a leadoff single, Hedges caught Esteury Ruiz stealing second. That proved to be a key play, as the next batter hit a ground-rule double that would have scored Perez. A single put runners at first and third, before Holderman got the final two outs, finishing with an 87 MPH sweeper at the bottom of the zone to get Carlos Perez swinging.
PIRATES PROSPECT WATCH
By John Dreker
ROOKIE: FCL PIRATES
Final Score: Pirates 9, Braves 2
Player of the Game: Antwone Kelly 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO
The Pirates won 9-2 over the Braves, in a game that featured multiple choices for the Player of the Game. Starter Hung-Leng Chang put in a solid performance, allowing one run over four frames, while striking out six batters. Reliever Antwone Kelly was just as strong, going three shutout innings on one hit, one walk and six strikeouts.
Sergio Umana allowed one run over the final two frames. He had two strikeouts, giving the Pirates pitchers 14 for the game.
Yordany De Los Santos had a case for the top player honors. He went 3-for-5, with a double, two runs and an RBI. Esmerlyn Valdez homered, walked and drove in three runs.
Lonnie White Jr returned to action for the first time since last year. He had a solid game, going 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs and a stolen base.
Catching prospect Axiel Plaz went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.
Juan Jerez had a double and two RBIs, as he rehabs from a spring injury.
ROOKIE: DSL PIRATES BLACK
Final Score: Tigers 3, Pirates 0
Player of the Game: Jonathan Rivero 1-for-3, 2B, 2 BB
The Pirates Black lost their opener by a 3-0 score. Starter Clevari Tejada allowed two runs/one earned over three innings. Brandison Polanco followed with one run over 2.2 frames, while striking out five batters. Wali Pierre and Luis Joseph handled the final 2.1 frames without a run.
Catcher Jonathan Rivero was the top (by bonus) international signing for the Pirates this year, receiving an $840,000 bonus. He went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks in his debut.
Cristian Jauregui, a top signing out of Cuba, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his debut. He did record a stolen base and an outfield assist.
Angel Aquino and Carlos Caro each had two hits. Aquino is a power-hitting outfielder, who signed in January.
Caro was a 2021-22 signing who flew completely under the radar, so we didn’t find out about him until today. He signed back in October, making him part of the previous signing class. He an athletic middle infielder, who impacts the ball well. He’s a strong kid, despite being listed at 5’11”, 160 pounds. As you might expect, he has room to fill out. He’s a right-handed batter, 18 years old out of the Dominican.
ROOKIE: DSL PIRATES GOLD
Final Score: Pirates 6, Phillies 1
Player of the Game: Pitterson Rosa 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO
With fewer affiliates in the U.S., some players are going to be left behind an extra year in the DSL. That seems like the case with Pitterson Rosa, one of the higher profile pitchers for either Pirates DSL squad, who had a strong rookie season last year. He dominated in the season opener, allowing a hit and a walk over four scoreless innings, while striking out seven batters.
Rafael Mendez allowed an unearned run over two innings. Greiber Mendez took the final three innings, retiring all nine batters he faced.
The Pirates scored their first run in the second inning on a double by John Zorrilla. They added five more runs in the sixth for the 6-1 win.
Ruben Vizcaya hit a two-run homer in the sixth. He ended up with the Dave Parker Hat Trick (all rights reserved), adding a stolen base and an outfield assist to the home run. In the past, the outfielders in the Pirates system as a group went multiple years in a row without one DPHT. They are very rare.
Wild pitches scored the third and fourth runs of the inning. A ground out by Eduardo Oviedo scored the final run.
No one on the Pirates had more than one hit, but they drew eight walks as a group.
We will have FCL and DSL season previews coming up soon.