Game Recap: Pirates Reach .500 With Series Win in Minnesota

The Pirates got back to .500 with a 6-2 win in Minnesota.  Since their 1-6 start, they’re 10-5.  They won all three series on their road trip and finished 6-3.

Wil Crowe put in a solid, four-inning outing after a shaky start.  He gave up three singles in the first, but survived with one run allowed due to a line-drive double play.  He gave up two runners in the second, although one was an infield hit.  Over his last two innings he gave up just a walk, although he had some help.  Erik Gonzalez made a highlight-reel stop on a shot down the third base line by Josh Donaldson and threw to first to get Donaldson easily.  Crowe finished with four hits — all singles — and two walks allowed.

The Pirates also got off to a fast start against Matt Shoemaker.  Adam Frazier and Phillip Evans singled, and Bryan Reynolds looped a double down the left field line to drive in one run.  Colin Moran hit a sacrifice fly to bring in another.

The Bucs couldn’t do anything else with Shoemaker, but he left during the sixth.  In the seventh, the bottom of the order came through for the second day in a row.  Gregory Polanco singled and took third when Jacob Stallings doubled.  Kevin Newman and Frazier each singled in a run.  Reynolds later doubled to drive in a third, making the score 5-1.

Polanco got another insurance run in the seventh with his third home run of the year.  It was a typical Polanco blast, a towering fly ball over the fence in center.

Meanwhile, the Pirates’ bullpen, as it’s so often done lately, outpitched the other team’s.  Clay Holmes went an inning and a third, and Sam Howard got the last two outs in the sixth.

Chris Stratton struck out the side in the seventh, although with a couple singles mixed in.  The only glitch came when Stratton returned for the eighth and gave up a leadoff bomb to Nelson Cruz.  With a day off tomorrow, the decision to leave Stratton in seemed dubious, but in a closer game it’s likely Kyle Crick would have gone in.  I’ve been wondering whether the Pirates aren’t trying to be very careful with Crick.

Anyway, Stratton got the next three batters in the eighth.  David Bednar threw a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.

Holmes got the win, his first decision of the year.  Polanco and Adam Frazier each had three hits; Polanco’s OPS vaulted all the way to .708 and Frazier is back over .300 at .310.  Todd Frazier was 0-for-4.  He’s now 0-for-14 as a Pirate . . . but it’s a very veteranly 0-for-14.

One news item:  Anthony Alford cleared waivers.  The Pirates assigned him to their alternate training site.