A rare sun-splashed April day in Pittsburgh made the Pirates' 1979-style alternate uniforms pop and made for a bigger, louder early-season crowd. The Pirates' bats stayed hot, connecting for 17 hits for an all-around excellent day at the ballpark and a 9-3 victory over the Brewers on Sunday.
Jordy Mercer's sacrifice fly scored Gregory Polanco for a 1-0 Pirates lead in the second inning, then the string of hits everyone's been waiting on with the Pirates' high-OBP, low-power offense came in the third, as they batted around and scored five runs.
A David Freese walk and singles by Matt Joyce and Francisco Cervelli loaded the bases, then single runs scored on singles by Polanco and Josh Harrison. Two more came in on a Mercer grounder mishandled by Jonathan Villar -- the Brewers are apparently playing a 2015 Pirates defense, setting up in great position but mishandling everything in sight. Juan Nicasio made it safely on a bunt, scoring another run, then John Jaso got an RBI single, putting the Bucs up, 6-0.
As per MLB regulation, the Pirates gave three runs right back as Nicasio scuffled in the fourth inning. Going through the Brewers' batting order the second time, he walked two and gave up three hits, including Kirk Nieuwenhuis' solid piece of hitting that plated two.
Nicasio didn't answer a ton of questions after hitting the extremes in his first two starts, but he was solid enough. He didn't appear to throw his third pitch, the changeup, a whole lot, sticking with the fastball-slider combo. He gave up a couple hits to start the fifth inning, but settled down to get his last five batters out, finishing with a perfectly fine line of six strikeouts, two walks and five hits in six innings.
Andrew McCutchen hit a solo homer, his second in consecutive games, in the fifth to add on. In the eighth, Sean Rodriguez, bored with taking all those walks and just being the best backup first baseman that ever lived, launched a homer to the third level of the left-field rotunda. I don't remember a ball being hit up there in a long time, minus maybe the warped physics of the videogame MVP 2005. See it for your own self.
We also got to see Cervelli play first base in the ninth inning, and he got two putouts, which was neat.
Joyce, starting in place of Starling Marte after Marte was hit on the hand by a pitch on Saturday, went 3-for-4 with a walk. (Marte entered as a defensive replacement late, which was weird, but at least tells us he's fine.) Polanco went 3-for-4 with a double and Jaso and Harrison each had two-hit days.
The win gave the Pirates a series win and forged a 2-3 record on a homestand that started 0-3, leaving things feeling a lot better heading into a 10-game western swing.