What a way to earn the victory, as the Pirates exploded for nine runs, backed by a Michael Chavis grand slam to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4 at Busch Stadium on Sunday.
Pirates starter Bryse Wilson started the game in an ugly fashion, giving the Cardinals a three-run head start thanks to a sacrifice fly by Tyler O’Neil and then a two-run home run by Nolan Arenado. The exit velocities in that inning didn’t dip below 94.4, other than Molina’s inning-ending fly out at 85.4.
The game seemed to be heading towards the previous two games played until the Pirates got three singles in the third inning by Roberto Perez, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Bryan Reynolds. What followed those singles was a 102.4 mph grand slam by Chavis, giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
Kevin Newman added an additional run in the third inning by hitting a ball into the gap scoring Diego Castillo, extending the Pirates’ lead 5-3.
The Pirates’ offense continued to shell out the runs in the fourth inning. Hayes displayed an impressive at-bat shooting a ball up the middle to score Perez, and that was followed up by a wild pitch scoring Ben Gamel to make it a 7-3 lead.
Wilson’s day was done after four innings of work. Despite the really bad first inning, Wilson settled down and started to miss some bats, six in fact. Wilson’s line read four innings pitched, five hits, three earned runs, two strikeouts, and a walk.
Miguel Yajure made his season debut after making the opening day roster for the first time and looked brilliant in his two innings of work. Yajure didn’t induce many swings and misses (just one), but there was very little hard contact, and his fastball sat around 94. Yajure allowed no hits and just one walk.
Jake Marisnick and Ben Gamel added some insurance runs for the Pirates in the seventh (Marisnick single) and eighth (Gamel scoring on error) to give the Pirates a 9-4 lead.
After Yajure, the Pirates sent out Heath Hembree and Wil Crowe to finish the game. Hembree gave up the lone run out of the pen, and Crowe pitched a flawless two innings of work. Crowe may have found his future role.
The Pirates will try to split the series against the Cardinals Monday. The series finale from St. Louis begins Monday at 2:15 p.m.