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Gamel’s First Inning Homer, Hayes’ Four-Hit Day Lead Pirates to 6-2 Win Over Cubs

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The Pirates bounced back after a loss on Tuesday to beat the Cubs 6-2 at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon. An early Ben Gamel blast and a strong day from Ke’Bryan Hayes set the tone for the Bucs in the victory.

After Cubs catcher Willson Contreras blasted a 453-foot home run in the top of the first, the Pirates responded with three runs in the home half of the inning thanks to a two-out rally. After a Hayes base hit, Yoshi Tsutsugo drew a walk, bringing up Gamel. Gamel golfed a changeup over the Clemente Wall putting the Pirates out in front and the Bucs never looked back.

The Bucs plated two more in the fifth thanks to another two-out hit. Kevin Newman tripled down the right field line and both Hayes and Gamel touched home on the play.

Speaking of Hayes, he drove in a run with a base hit to right in the fourth, a blow that knocked out Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. On the afternoon, Hayes collected four hits including a double, drove in a run and scored a pair. It was the second career game for Hayes with at least four hits. 

Zach Thompson made his Pirates debut and allowed two runs through four innings. He was taken out of the game in the fifth after a Nico Hoerner-comebacker hit Thompson in the back. The Pirates say Thompson has a right shoulder contusion. Dillon Peters came in for Thompson and after issuing a walk to load the bases, he got Contreras to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

Peters and Will Crowe combined to blank the Cubs over five innings in relief. By finishing the final three innings, Crowe earned his first career save.

The Pirates host the Nationals as part of a four-game series starting on Thursday at 6:35. JT Brubaker (0-1, 12.00 ERA) makes his second start of the season for the Pirates. Joan Adon (0-1, 8.31 ERA) gets the nod for the Nats.

Takeaways

  • Patience and Execution: The Pirates did a couple things in this one that they didn’t do at all in Tuesday’s home opener loss. The first was they drew some walks. Tsutsugo’s two-out walked paid dividends as it led to the three-run homer off the bat of Gamel, which is another thing the Pirates failed to do yesterday. After going hitless in 10 tries with runners in scoring position a day ago, Gamel’s blast in the first inning came with a man in scoring position, situations the Pirates will need to continue to capitalize moving forward. For the game, the Pirates drew five walks and went 3 for 7 with RISP. 
  • Hendricks’ Bucs Hiccup: Last season, Hendricks struggled mightily against the Pirates in his five starts against them. He posted a 6.66 ERA (18er/24.1ip) and let up five home runs. The struggles carried over to his first start against them in 2022 as Hendricks surrendered six runs and wasn’t able to complete four innings. He gave up seven hits and issued four free passes. For comparison, Hendricks posted a 2.24 ERA in 88.1 innings against Pittsburgh from 2016-2020.
  • Flashing the Leather: Overall through five games, the Pirates have played some pretty good defense. They committed two errors on Opening Day in St. Louis, but since they haven’t committed any. The Bucs made a number of really good plays in the field. Bryan Reynolds made a fine running catch in center field, and Newman made a diving play to rob Frank Schwindel of a hit up the middle. Hayes effortlessly started another double play in a big spot ending the Cubs threat in the fifth. Hayes made another nice play to start the seventh, and Tsutsugo did the same one batter later. Ben Gamel made a tough diving catch in the ninth.
  • Wil Pen: Wil Crowe looks like a completely different pitcher for the Pirates this year coming out of the bullpen. After struggling as a starter a season ago, Crowe had pitched exclusively out of the pen this season and has thrived. He ahs yet to give up a run in his seven innings of work so far and has covered multiple innings in all three appearances. We first saw success out of this role from Crowe towards the end of spring and he has carried over the momentum into the start of the regular season.

 

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