For the second straight outing, the Bucs brought out the bats, pounding the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-5, Saturday at PNC Park.
Saturday’s win marked the first time this season that the Pirates strung together two consecutive wins, and they improved to 6-17 overall going into today’s 1:35 p.m. finale. JT Brubaker will start for the Pirates and Corbin Burnes gets the start for Milwaukee.
The Pirates put together a 14-hit attack and totaled a season-high nine extra-base hits, including home runs from Gregory Polanco, Adam Frazier and Jacob Stallings.
Polanco went 2 for 3 and drove in a pair, raising his average to .120. Adam Frazier went 3 for 5 and drove in three while Colin Moran, who started the season hot, then cooled off, went 3 for 4 – with all three of his hits going for two bases — and scored three times.
Stallings and Bryan Reynolds joined Polanco with two hits apiece, with Stallings driving in three and Reynolds one.
After the game, Polanco said it was important that the Pirates forget about their forgettable start and focus on the rest of the season.
“We can’t do nothing about last week or the last three games,” he told Robby Incmikoski on AT&T SportsNet after the game. “That’s what our mindset is right now. You come here, be prepared and forget about the past.”
In addition to his two-run homer in the fourth, which snapped a 1-1 tie, Polanco added a double later in the game. He told Incmikoski that he’s tried to shorten his swing and focus on swinging at strikes to help get out of his funk. “I’m trying to make contact, trying not too do too much and put the ball at play,” he said.
Afterward, Pirates manager Derek Shelton said he was happy to see his club win its second straight game for the first time all season. Shelton noted the club had some starts and stops, referring to off-days prompted by COVID-19, and then ran into Cleveland’s outstanding pitching. “They’ve come in here (against Milwaukee) and have had some consistent at-bats to keep things going” he said. “It’s nice.”
Shelton applauded Stallings, saying the catcher is taking advantage of his opportunities and having consistent at-bats. A key aspect, he said, is that Stallings is using the whole field. “He’s driven the ball to all fields, which is nice to see,” he said.
The Pirates have come alive at the plate in the last two games after struggling the first third of the season. Shelton, a former hitting coach, said it’s usually more of a mental issue than a physical one when players go into slumps at the plate.
“Very few times during a major league season, even 162 games, where you see players make major mechanical adjustments,” he said. “You see slight tweaks to a player’s swing, but timing is mental thing, not a physical thing.”
Starter Derek Holland, who earned his first win as a Pirate, said he didn’t want to make more out of Saturday’s win than it’s worth, but he said he was happy to see the club win its second straight. “It’s a great feeling,” he said. “We put in this work, and we’re not worrying about what went on in the past. We’ll continue to fight and keep plugging away because we know things are going to happen for us.”
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first on Moran’s RBI double, but the Brewers evened the score in the fourth when Jedd Gyorko homered off Holland. Polanco’s two-run homer in the fourth made it 3-1, and the Bucs added two in the fifth on Frazier’s solo homer and Reynolds’ RBI double.
Stallings’ contributed a two-run homer in the sixth, but Keston Hiura’s three-run homer in the top of the seventh sliced the lead to 7-4.
But the Pirates put the game away in the seventh with five runs, two of which came home on Erik Gonzalez’s base hit and two more on Frazier’s double.
Holland went five innings, giving up four hits and the one run on Gyorko’s homer. After Tyler Bashlor pitched a scoreless sixth, Dovydas Neverauskas surrendered Hiura’s three-run homer, and Chris Stratton and Nick Mears finished.