I was starting to feel like I was doing Charlie-in-Iceland in reverse, but the Pirates came through with an actual win. Kevin Newman, pinch-hitting with one out in the ninth, drove in two runs with a single to give the Bucs a 6-5 win over Minnesota and stop their seven-game losing streak.
The Pirates got three innings each from a couple of their upper level pitching prospects. J.T. Brubaker made his first major league start and Cody Ponce made his second, and longest, major league appearance. Neither was especially bad, but they were hurt by a few mistakes. Brubaker gave up a three-run blast to Miguel Sano in the first. Ponce gave up solo bombs to Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario. All three pitches were left over the middle of the plate about thigh-high.
Brubaker gave up four hits and two walks over his three innings. Ponce allowed only the two gopher balls, plus a walk. Brubaker fanned two and Ponce three, and neither missed a whole lot of bats, which is partly why they needed 100 pitches combined to get through six innings. Too many long at-bats.
On offense, the Pirates got an actual three-run homer. Gregory Polanco followed singles by Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds with his first home run, a 446-foot blast that bounced into the river. That tied the game in the second inning. (The home run brought Polanco’s average up to the Dyson Line, but he finished the game back below it.) After Polanco’s longball, Minnesota starter Kenta Maeda waltzed through 12 straight hitters, until Josh Bell walked with two out in the sixth.
The Pirates got some good relief work in the late innings, probably because nobody named Del Pozo appeared. Chris Stratton and Sam Howard combined for three scoreless innings.
By the eighth inning, the Pirates still had gotten only one hit since Polanco’s bomb. They didn’t get any in the eighth, either, but they got a run. Jarrod Dyson walked, stole second and third, and scored on a grounder by Phillip Evans.
That brought it to the ninth, with the score 5-4. For some reason, the Pirates only seem to be able to score at the end of the game. They’ve scored 45 runs this year, with 28 coming in the seventh through the ninth. They’ve scored 13 in the ninth inning alone, compared to just 17 in the first six innings. Of course, some of those late-inning runs have come against mop-up relievers.
Today, though, it mattered. Against the Twins’ closer, left-hander Taylor Rogers, Colin Moran led off with a single. Bryan Reynolds doubled, with Moran’s pinch runner, Cole Tucker, taking third. Polanco fanned, but Newman, batting for J.T. Riddle, bounced a single up the middle, through the drawn-in infield. Reynolds scored without a play to end it.
Howard got the win. The Pirates now have three games at home against Detroit.