The Pirates won their fifth straight game, beating the Reds, 4-2, at PNC Park. The win was their fifth straight, their longest win streak in four years and one day. It’s also their longest under Derek Shelton.
The win was keyed by another streak, as Mitch Keller put up the team’s eleventh straight quality start. Keller went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk, with five strikeouts.
The Pirates got the early lead, with some help. In the second inning, a balk by Reds’ starter Graham Ashcraft left Mark Mathias with two runners in scoring position. Mathias looped a single over second to plate both runners.
Keller meanwhile retired the first 11 batters he faced before a hit batsman with two out in the fourth. He still didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when two singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly tied the game.
The Pirates weren’t doing much with Ashcraft. In fact, they had only one hit off him after the second. In the sixth, though, with Ashcraft gone, the Reds became helpful again. Connor Joe singled and made it to third with two out on a wild pitch and a ground out. Mathias hit a routine grounder to short that should have ended the inning, but Jose Barrero booted it, putting the Bucs back in front, 3-2. They had a shot at some insurance later in the inning when Austin Hedges singled with Mathias on second, but Mathias was thrown out at the plate.
The Pirates got some insurance anyway, with two out in the seventh. Andrew McCutchen walked and came around to score when Carlos Santana doubled to left-center, making it 4-2.
The bullpen finished it out. Robert Stephenson, who seems to have taken over for Duane Underwood, Jr., as the seventh inning guy, pitched around an error in the seventh. Colin Holderman had the leadoff runner in the eighth reach second on a hit and an error, but a ground out and two strikeouts ended the threat. David Bednar breezed through the ninth on eight pitches, picking up his seventh save. Last year he got save number seven on May 15.
Keller got the win to go 2-0. The Pirates totaled only six hits and Joe had half of them, including a double. He’s now batting .377.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
To be honest, I smile when teams like the Bucs aren’t getting the notice that we think they should. Let ‘em keep ignoring the Bucs and taking them lightly. Makes it even more sweet when the Pirates win a series or sweep ‘em.
Lou Brown once said:
I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big shitburger to eat!
I think that the Bucs should follow Lou’s lead! 😁😁😁
How to keep playing competitive ball:
*Stay Healthy: we arguably have some middle infield, catching, and low-leverage reliever depth but that’s about it. Need to stop the bleeding at Cruz, Bru & Choi. Any further hit to our SP, backend RP or regular hitters would be a major challenge.
*Only Hill or Velasquez can implode, not both. I think it’s ok for one to implode but we need the other to be a solid starter. And once one of them implodes, don’t be stubborn because of some fantasy of trade deadline return – try to stay competitive: bring up Ortiz or Bido. Can’t have 40% of the rotation as duds. Not going to lie: I still wince a little when I see Hill starting today and VV tomorrow.
*Ying & Yang: I love when Suwinsky was awful, BRey was killing it & now vice versa. Similar Bae/Castro. Hayes heating up will allow Cutch & CJoe to inevitably cool off a little. When our SP takes an inevitable step back, hopefully that’s when the offense takes off again and vice versa.
*Also keep playing the Reds & Rockies 🙂
In case anybody wonders why I despise Manfred so much . . .
Except I guess for the Rays, the Pirates should be the big story in early season MLB. There’s Cutch. There’s being tied for MLB’s fourth best record. There’s the QS streak, which I believe I read exceeds any in MLB all last year. Yet I’ve seen squat at MLB.com apart from the team’s own site.
Rob doesn’t want the Pirates doing well. What if they somehow kept the Dodgers out of the playoffs?! The horror!!
Right on brother! They’d shit their pants if that happened.
When the mad dog Christopher Russo starts talking about the Buccos, then I’ll get bullish on them, he already discounts the rays and he’ll discount the pirates, but as long as he talks about them I know they are pretty dam good. We are all giddy and happy go lucky right now but if they can finish off winning this series and taking the dodgers series I’ll say we got a chance at the playoffs, hopefully in September I’ll be saying chance at the world series. Manfred can kiss buccos fans asses.
I’ve seen Baseball Zen commercials with Cutch’s home opener standing ovation, and Choi’s post HR Sumari sword move – and I think Hayes’ leather is finally getting some national buzz – but fair point
Suddenly, I have Sonny and Cher in my head……. The beat goes on, the beat goes on……
La di da di die, la di da di di
Woke up, no Sonny and Cher…. Saw your reply…..And the beat goes on, the beat goes on…..