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Gonzales’ First Checkmarks Burst Pirates’ Breakthrough On Offense



Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales watches his first career home run, against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 27, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

PITTSBURGH — Entering Tuesday night’s game against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates had dropped 12 of their last 13 games.

To say that the offense struggled during that stretch would be quite an undersell. In those 13 games, the Pirates managed to score only 30 runs — an average of 2.3 runs per game.

The collective slump at the plate is history — at least for one day — as the Pirates’ offense erupted for nine runs on 16 hits in their 9-4 win over the Padres.

“Yeah I mean we did a good job,” manager Derek Shelton said. “We kept adding on. We played the way we played earlier in the year with the bunt and being able to take extra bases. Cutch made a great read on the one ball Santana hit and overall just a very well played game.”

It was a balanced attack from the Pirates’ lineup. Each of the starting nine had a hand in the win. Eight of the nine reached base at least one time. Ji Hwan Bae, who was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a strike call, was the only one not to reach. He still drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the second inning to get the Pirates on the board.

Even with so many contributing, one player stood above the rest, and it was the newest Pirates’ player.

Nick Gonzales, recently called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, was able to check off several key firsts en route to the Pirates’ big victory.

In the second inning, Gonzales hit one off of the Clemente Wall in right field that went for a triple. Not only did it mark his first hit, but Rodolfo Castro scored on the play as Gonzales also collected his first RBI.

It wasn’t all for Gonzales, though. Later in the game, Gonzales gave the Pirates an insurance run with a 442-foot blast to straightaway center field for his first big league homer.

“To get a win and then obviously to have my first hit and first home run is something special. But, to get the win I think is more important, obviously. We’re all excited here,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales was one of four Pirates with multi-hit games. Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana each had three hits, while Henry Davis, Rodolfo Castro and Austin Hedges all recorded a pair of singles.

In addition to Gonzales, Santana and Jack Suwinski slugged home runs. Santana and Suwinski went back-to-back in the third.

“I think everyone was just on the offensive and we attacked, said Gonzales. We hit pitches in the middle of the plate really well and I think that’s good. And we didn’t swing at anything out of the zone. You do that for nine innings and you’ll be successful.”

That’s the kind of game the Pirates desperately needed. Tomorrow is a new day and what happened in this game won’t necessarily translate to Wednesday’s matchup, but the Pirates were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

“That’s an awesome win for us. We’re gonna keep it rolling into the next weeks and next days. For an offensive explosion like that is really cool,” Gonzales said.

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