Just when it seemed like they might never win again, the Pirates broke their four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Bryan Reynolds had the game we’ve been waiting for and Chad Kuhl continued to look like a possible 2021 rotation stalwart.
Kuhl continued his impressive comeback from Tommy John. Naturally, he didn’t throw a great many strikes — 47 in 84 pitches — and he walked three over five innings, but he gave up only two hits. Both were by Ben Gamel and one left the park. That came in the second and was the only run off Kuhl. He struck out only one, but got nine ground outs to three outs in the air. One of the latter was a liner to left on which Reynolds made a great diving catch.
The Pirates meanwhile got some of those things where a guy touches home plate. The first came when Reynolds led off the bottom of the second by bashing his second home run of the year to right-center, tying the game.
In the fourth, the Pirates got a bunch of hits. Five of them, all in a row at the start of the inning. Josh Bell, Colin Moran, Reynolds, Gregory Polanco and Cole Tucker. The last three drove in a run each, making it 4-1.
The Pirates’ bullpen came on in the sixth and things started to take a familiar turn. Sam Howard retired the first two batters, then gave up a single and a walk. Geoff Hartlieb followed and walked another to load the bases. But then Hartlieb started throwing strikes. He got a ground out to end the inning and had a 1-2-3 seventh, getting good results from his slider. So the bullpen continues to show potential mixed in with struggles.
The Bucs went with one of their established relievers for the eighth. Richard Rodriguez gave up a leadoff home run to Christian Yelich, then got the next three batters.
In the bottom half, the Pirates got some more hits. Bell and Moran singled — the latter a bunt?! — and Reynolds ripped a triple into the notch. (Yes, Moran scored from first on something short of back-to-back dingerz.) Cole Tucker got Reynolds in by dinking a looper over the drawn-in infield. Bucs up, 7-2.
Of course, this is the Pirates so something bad had to happen. Keone Kela gave up a leadoff hit in the ninth, then exited after his first pitch to the next batter. It looked like maybe a problem with his forearm. So Kela’s probably not going to bring back the next Oneil Cruz at the deadline. The (faint) silver lining was, Tyler Bashlor quickly brought the game to an end with a double play and a ground out.
For the game, Reynolds, Moran and Tucker each had three hits. Erik Gonzalez went 0-for-5 and is now in a 1-for-14 slump, so he seems to be turning back into Erik Gonzalez. Reynolds scored three runs and drove in four, and his OPS jumped nearly 100 points.
A final pair of interesting notes. The tryout relievers allowed no runs. And the Pirates got a well pitched game despite only three strikeouts. Probably doesn’t mean diddly, but I’m trying to pay attention to any tendencies I can spot with the pitchers.
UPDATE: Not sure what the second sentence means, but this is from Jason Mackey:
Keone Kela left the game with forearm tightness, Derek Shelton says. Shelton blamed himself for being overly cautious because of the bullpen issues the Pirates have experienced.