After being held scoreless in the first two games of the series, the Pirates finally found the run column and avoided the sweep by defeating the Cubs 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Jack Suwinski had his family in attendance as the Bucs took on the Cubs in Suwinski’s hometown city of Chicago. With the score tied 2-2 in the fifth, Suwisnki gave the Pirates the lead with a solo shot to center field.
Jack Suwinski just homered in his hometown with his parents in the stands!!! 🥺 pic.twitter.com/J0I5TIOI7U
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) May 19, 2022
The Pirates finally broke through to score their first runs of the series in the third. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit the very top of the outfield basket in center, just missing his first homer of the year but settled for a double. After a Bryan Reynolds walk, Michael Chavis drove in Hayes with a single up the middle. Daniel Vogelbach followed with a run-scoring single of his own, giving the Bucs a 2-1 lead.
Wil Crowe, who has been effective out of the bullpen this season, made his first start of the season for the Pirates. With two outs in the first inning, Ian Happ homered to left-center field to give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.
Crowe was used as an opener and covered two innings. He let up the one run on one hit, one walk and picked up three strikeouts. Mitch Keller followed Crowe, marking his first relief appearance of his career. Keller worked 2.2 innings, allowed one run on three hits, walked a pair and struck out four. He picked up his first win of the season.
It was an interesting decision by Derek Shelton, pulling him after just 55 pitches in favor of Duane Underwood Jr. Underwood was brought into face Seiya Suzuki, who had doubled off of Keller earlier in the game. The right-hander retired Suzuki to end the inning.
The Cubs tied the game at two in the fourth when Suzuki scored on a Frank Schwindel line drive single to left field, but that was all the last time Pirates pitching yielded a run.
Ultimately, the Pirates “bullpen game” strategy, paid off, limiting the Cubs to a pair of runs after Chicago scored a combined 16 runs in the first two games of the series.
David Bednar picked up another two-inning save to close this one out, the third time he’s picked up a two-inning save this month. It was his eighth save on the season.
The Pirates have an off day on Thursday before a three-game weekend set with the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.
- Runs On The Board: The two runs that the Pirates scored in the third inning were more than they have in their last three games combined. Entering play, the Pirates had scored just 41 runs in 15 games (2.73 runs/game) in the month of May. That total is tied with the Detroit Tigers for the fewest in Major League Baseball. On the month, the Pirates team batting average of .212 is the second worst in the league, ahead of only the Oakland A’s (.198).
- Needed That: After struggling through a 1 for 22 skid at the plate, Reynolds reached base three times in the win over the Cubs. He recorded a pair of base hits, the second of which registered at 103 mph off the bat. Reynolds also drew a walk, putting him on base three times in the game, the fourth time he’s been on base at least three times in one game this season.
- Duane Revenge Game: Underwood looked great in his outing against his former team and really had his changeup working. He was tasked with covering 2.1 innings and he did just that. He didn’t allow a run or a hit, walked one and picked up a pair of punch outs. If he’s able to pitch as well as he did in this one moving forward, he will give the Bucs bullpen a much needed boost. The Pirates have the fourth-worst ERA in the league from their relievers.
- Chavis Catching Fire: With three more hits, Chavis continued his hot stretch at the plate. After his three base hits, Chavis is now batting .429 (9 for 21) with two doubles and a triple over his last seven games. He’s collected hits in six of those seven games, It’s been a nice turnaround in May for Chavis after starting the month just 1 for 14.