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Pirates Blow JT Brubaker’s Strong Start, Marlins Defeat Pirates 5-4 in Back And Forth Game

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Pittsburgh Pirates

JT Brubaker delivered a brilliant start on the mound for the Pirates, blanking the Marlins over seven innings, but after several late lead changes, Miami ultimately defeated the Pirates 5-4 at LoanDepot Park on Wednesday.

Duane Underwood Jr. came into the game in relief on Brubaker. After recording the two outs of the inning, Underwood plunked Joey Wendle, walked Jon Berti and hit Jesús Aguilar to load the bases. Avisaíl Garcia delivered a two-run single to put the Marlins ahead.

After Daniel Vogelbach and Ke’Bryan Hayes drew walks to begin the ninth, Michael Chavis delivered an RBI-double to draw even with the Fish again. The Bucs had second and third with nobody out, but couldn’t push across another run.

The Pirates broke through for a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Vogelbach recorded an RBI-groundout. He was followed by Hayes, who drove in a run to tack on an insurance run for the Pirates, who now led 4-2.

The Marlins tied it again in the bottom of the 10th off of David Bednar thanks to singles from Berdi and Aguilar. Miami won it when Bednar delivered a wild pitch, on a swing and a miss, one that got away from Jason Delay, allowing Aguilar to score from third.

Brubaker was simply masterful on the mound for the Pirates. He was in complete control all night, and had arguably his best start of the season. His nine strikeouts were the second most he’s had in an outing this season, and it was the second time he’s gone seven innings this year.

In total, Brubaker scattered three hits and only walked a pair of batters in his seven innings. He was one pitch shy of 100 on the night and 66 of those went for strikes. His season ERA now sits at a healthy 4.02.

After back-to-back starts to begin the season, Brubaker has a 3.53 ERA over his last 16 starts with 90 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. A big reason for the strong stretch is he’s limited opponents to just eight homeruns against after the long ball plagued him last season.

Josh VanMeter, Oneil Cruz and Yoshi Tsutsugo combined to turn a heck of a double play to prevent the Marlins from scoring in the fourth inning.

The Pirates first hit didn’t come until the fifth inning but the Bucs made it count. Ben Gamel delivered a base hit to right  field that scored Cruz, who walked and stole second to begin the inning.

The Pirates will go for the series win on Thursday afternoon. Zach Thompson (3-6, 4.38 ERA) will face his former team. Braxton Garrett (1-3, 4.33 ERA) will get the ball for Miami.

Takeaways

  • Cruzin: Quietly, Cruz is putting together a pretty strong stretch of ball at he plate. The big shortstop has reached base safely in six out of his last seven games after drawing a walk in this one. Over that span, Cruz has recorded a double, triple, homer and has scored five times. While he’s striking out more than the Pirates would like, he seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate as he continues to get experience at the big league level. 
  • Two In A Row*: Pirates starters this season entered play having thrown the third-fewest innings with 409.1, ahead of only the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. Excluding Tuesday’s bullpen game in which Chris Stratton, normally a reliever, was used as an opener, Pirates starting pitchers have gone seven innings two straight games. Mitch Keller tossed seven strong innings in Monday’s win over Miami. Pirates pitching in general this series has been lights out.
  • Back And Forth We Go: This game was the epitome of a back and forth game that was filled with excitement in the late innings. Almost in basketball territory, there were four different lead changes and a pair of ties all in the eighth inning or later. It was the tale of two games, of sorts, after a quiet first seven innings.

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