It’s no secret that the Pirates bullpen has let the team down in recent games, and that trend continued on Monday night. Maikel Franco hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning off of Chris Stratton to lift the Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the Pirates.
After a Luis Garcia double to begin the inning, Stratton retired the next two men with ease. Then, Franco stepped up to the plate and hammered a first pitch slider that was left up a little too high in the zone.
The Pirates had a chance to at least tie it in the ninth but stranded a man on second base. Pittsburgh was hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game.
Josh VanMeter was activated off the injured list prior to the start of the game and gave the Bucs an early run. He drove in Bligh Madris with a sacrifice fly to center in the second inning, putting the Pirates ahead 1-0.
Oneil Cruz hit his first homer of the season and it was an impressive one. Cruz rocketed one to the gap in right-center field, hit just high enough but certainly hard enough to put the Pirates ahead by a pair.
OH MY ONEIL! pic.twitter.com/WIcm0Nz59o
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 28, 2022
The Nats got on the board in the sixth inning on a Yadiel Hernandez RBI groundout.
Miguel Yajure was announced as the Pirates starter before the game, and he gave the Pirates four scoreless innings. He blanked the Nats over four innings and was able to escape a couple jams to keep the Nationals off the scoreboard in his first start at the Major League level this season.
Pittsburgh has now lost four straight games after taking three out of four from the Cubs last week.
The Pirates will look to turn the page on Tuesday night. Jose Quintana (1-4, 3.60) will square off with fellow southpaw Patrick Corbin (3-10, 6.60 ERA).
- As Advertised: Cruz’s main claim to fame as a prospect? He hits the ball hard. Well, his first homer of the year certainly showcased that. The line drive homerun registered 109.8 mph off the bat and came with a launch angle of just 19 degrees, and it still traveled over 400 feet. Hitting a homer on a ball with a launch angle that low is impressive, but it speaks to how strong Cruz is at the plate.
- Doesn’t Need To Be Pretty: Yajure’s pitching line wasn’t the strongest, but the only number that really mattered in this game for him was the zero underneath the runs column. In his four innings, the 24-year-old allowed four hits, walked three and failed to record a strikeout, but he didn’t allow the Nationals to reach home plate. The Pirates couldn’t ask for much more from him in a spot start in place of the injured Zach Thompson.
- Hittin’ Hoy: Hoy Park has quietly been on a nice roll at the plate and that continued in this one as he collected a pair of base hits in four at-bats. Over his last nine games, Park is 7 for 24 (.292) with a pair of homeruns and four runs driven in. Not only has he been hitting, but he’s doing the little things right as evident by two sacrifice flies and a pair of sacrifice bunts. Park has found himself batting ninth in the lineup in eight straight of his starts and has done a nice job setting the table for the top of the order.