For the second time in their last three games, the Pirates built a big lead early, but again weren’t able to hold on. After going up 6-0, the Phillies came all the way back, and a Ronald Torreyes three-run homer off the bench to put the Phillies on top, as Philadelphia defeated Pittsburgh 12-6 on Thursday night.
The Pirates jumped out to an early 6-0 lead before the Phillies responded with a dozen unanswered runs, reminiscent to Monday night’s game against the Reds when the Bucs lost in similar fashion.
The Pirates had the bases loaded with one out in the second before Michael Perez went down swinging. Derek Shelton opted to let Connor Overton bat and it looked like the Phillies might get out of the inning unscathed. With two strikes, Overton looped a single down the left field line that landed fair and plated two runs. Overton collected his first career hit and his first two RBIs in his first Major League at-bat.
Help yourself, Connor! pic.twitter.com/pTacStDGIQ
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 23, 2021
That Pirates weren’t done. Ke’Bryan Hayes stepped up to the plate after Overton and proceeded to smack a three-run home run that snuck over the fence in right field. It was the first homer for Hayes since Aug. 8. The Pirates took a commanding 5-0 lead and all five of their runs came with two outs in the inning.
Hittin' Hayes! pic.twitter.com/aBDSrW6pQ0
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 23, 2021
Leading off the third, Colin Moran smacked his ninth homer of the year off the facing of the second deck in right center for his first homer since Sept. 2 vs. the Cubs. After that, the Pirates’ bats were silenced as 16 straight were retired until Bryan Reynolds drew a walk with one out in the eighth. While the Bucs’ bats went cold, the Phillies’ bats turned red-hot.
The bottom of the third inning was disastrous for the Pirates. Didi Gregorius got the Phillies on the board when he crushed a solo shot to right field. Two batters later, Overton walked Phillies’ pitcher Aaron Nola, who came around to score after a curveball got by Michael Perez. After a Jean Segura sacrifice fly and a Bryce Harper walk, Andrew McCutchen roped a run-scoring double down the left field line. McCutchen later scored on a Brad Miller single. Suddenly, the game was 6-5 and the Pirates were clinging to a one-run lead.
With J.T. Realmuto standing on third base with two away in the sixth, Shelton opted to intentionally walk Matt Vierling, who had just 53 career plate appearances in order to force the Phillies’ hand and pinch hit for Nola. The moved backfired as pinch hitter Ronald Torreyes lined a three-run homer to put the Phillies on top 8-6. It was just the 11th career homer for Torreyes in over 300 games played.
Realmuto’s two-run homer in the seventh gave the Phillies 10 unanswered runs and a commanding 10-6 lead. Realmuto extended the lead to 12-6 with a two-RBI single the following inning.
Game two of this four game series is set for tomorrow at 7:05. The Pirates have yet to name a starter and they will face Kyle Gibson (10-8, 3.51 ERA).
Stat of the Game:
- Perez was charged with a passed ball on a high curveball in the third inning that allowed Nola to come around and score. It was the first passed ball charged to a Pirates’ catcher this season. The passed ball also broke the Major League record of 193 straight games without a passed ball that Pirates’ catchers set dating back to last season. Perez was charged with his second passed ball later that same inning. Perez, Jacob Stallings, John Ryan Murphy and Andrew Susac were responsible for setting the record.
- Power Key: Since the start of September, Hayes is batting is batting .318 (21 for 66). Ever since moving to the leadoff spot, Hayes has been on a tear but most of his hits have been singles. His homer in this one was his first in over a month, and Hayes now only has three homers since July 6. It’s tough to say what has led to the lack of power for Hayes this season, whether it might be related to the hand injury he suffered earlier in the season or not. Never the less, the power might be starting to come back as he now has recorded three extra-base hits in his last four games.
- A Good Stretch: Believe it or not but the Pirates have been playing pretty good baseball for a fairly long stretch. The Pirates are 9-6 over their last 15 games and haven’t lost a series since they went 0-6 combined vs. the White Sox and Cubs earlier this month. Dating back to their win over the Cardinals on Aug. 20, the Pirates are 15-16 over their last 31 games. In their 10 completed series in that stretch, the Pirates have a 6-2-2 series record with the rubber match of the Reds getting postponed to Sep. 27.
- Kuhling Off: Chad Kuhl’s tenure as a reliver got off on the right foot, pitching five innings and only giving up one run in his first four appearances. Since the start of September, however, things have gone very bad for Kuhl. In seven games, he has pitched 5.1 innings and after allowing a two-run homer in this one, Kuhl has given up nine runs (15.20 ERA). He’s given up 10 hits during that stretch and four of them have left the yard. On the year, Kuhl now has an ERA of exactly 5.00, the highest mark of his career.