Game Recap: Max Kranick Perfect in Five-Inning Debut

Over the next few years, Pirate fans should be seeing the debut of quite a few of the team’s prospects.  It’s obviously important that a lot of those debuts generate some excitement, either leading up to that first game or because of it.

Today the Pirates had one of the latter, hopefully a sign of more to come.  Max Kranick threw five perfect innings at St. Louis as the Pirates won, 7-2.  The win gave them three wins in their four-game road series against the red devils.

Kranick needed only 50 pitches for the five innings.  He fanned three.  He also benefited from an outlandish play by Ke’Bryan Hayes, going far into foul territory to nab a grounder and throw Yadier Molina out at first.  One oddity about Kranick’s debut:  He came to bat before he threw a pitch, the first Pirate pitcher to do that in his debut since Paul Maholm in 2005.

That oddity took place because Cards’ starter Johan Oviedo couldn’t throw strikes.  The first inning put the Pirates ahead to stay, although not without them showing their unique ability to make a multi-run inning look like a failure.  Three walks and two singles gave them a 2-0 lead and the bases loaded with nobody out.  Gregory Polanco struck out on a pitch in the dirt and Kevin Newman flied out too weakly to center to score a run.  Ben Gamel salvaged a little dignity from the inning by drawing an RBI walk before Kranick grounded out to end the inning with the score 3-0.

With the Cards’ offense going nowhere, the Pirates added on a pair in the fifth.  Hayes and Bryan Reynolds each drove in a run with a single.  In the fifth, Polanco and Gamel each connected for solo home runs.  Polanco’s was his ninth of the year and Gamel’s his second.  That made the score 7-0.

Kranick’s start, unhappily, was interrupted by a rain delay before the sixth inning could get underway.  It lasted about an hour and that ended Kranick’s outing.  Even so, it was exactly the kind of excitement a rebuilding team needs.

Duane Underwood, Jr., followed Kranick and went three innings.  He had a perfect sixth, then the Cards got their first baserunner when Dylan Carlson led off the seventh with a double.  He came around to score on two fly balls.  Underwood gave up another run in the eighth when Molina doubled and scored on a single by Paul DeJong.  David Bednar threw the ninth.

Gamel had a big day, going 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs.  The top of the order stayed in form, with Adam Frazier, Hayes and Reynolds combining for seven hits — three by Frazier — a walk, four runs and three RBIs.