On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates (10-11) and Minnesota Twins (7-12) met at Target Field in Minneapolis with both teams vying for a series win.
The Pirates sent Wil Crowe (0-0) to the mound, while the Twins countered with Matt Shoemaker (1-1)
Pittsburgh wasted no time in getting on the board. Three consecutive hits resulted in the first run of the game. Adam Frazier and Phillip Evans both singled to set the table for Bryan Reynolds; Reynolds doubled in Frazier before Colin Moran hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Evans. At inning’s end, the Pirates controlled a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Twins were able to get one back when Byron Buxton singled in Luis Arraez, cutting the Pirates’ lead in half, 2-1.
The Bucs ended up relying on Crowe for four innings; over that time, he allowed one run on four hits and two walks, and he would strikeout three over that time.
Clay Holmes would contribute 1.1 scoreless innings before giving way to Sam Howard, who pitched a quick 0.2 innings, striking out one in the process.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Pirates added a few insurance runs off a slew of hits. Kevin Newman singled in Gregory Polanco, which led to an Adam Frazier RBI single. A Reynolds double concluded the run-scoring, netting the Pirates a 5-1 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.
Chris Stratton gave up a pair of hits in the bottom of the seventh, but his three strikeouts helped avoid giving up a run, and the Pirates navigated through the seventh inning maintaining its 5-1 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Pirates would add another insurance run when Polanco put a charge into a ball that would come to land in the right field bleachers for his third home run of the year.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with Stratton still on the mound, Nelson Cruz got a run back for Minnesota when he launched a no doubt home run deep into the left field bleachers for his seventh home run of the season.
Stratton’s afternoon ended with two innings pitched, allowing three hits, one run, and striking out four batters.
David Bednar made entry in the ninth and made quick work of the opposition, striking out the first two batters and then inducing a groundball off the bat of Willians Astudillo, wrapping up a 6-2 win in Minnesota.
Of note, Adam Frazier picked up three hits and an RBI; Bryan Reynolds drove in a pair while collecting two doubles; and Gregory Polanco picked up three hits, including his solo home run. Clay Holmes earned the win, his first of the year; Shoemaker fell to 1-2.
With the win, the Pirates hit the .500 mark as we near the beginning of May, improving to 11-11, while the Twins fall to 7-13. It was the Pirates’ fourth series win of the season — including three consecutive road series’ — in spite of the club’s -10 run differential.
The Pirates will head into the off-day Monday on a high note before embarking on a short, two-game midweek series against the Kansas City Royals at home. After an off-day Thursday, it’s back to NL Central play when the St. Louis Cardinals come to town for a three game series that’ll carry us into May.