PITTSBURGH — The offense provided a lot of support for the Pirates in their win over the Nationals, but it could have been a different story all together had it not been for JT Brubaker finding his footing.
Brubaker battled wildness and some suspect defense behind him in the first, but he was able to flip the script and keep the Pirates in the game. He issued three free passes in the inning, and Hoy Park couldn’t chase down a ball in the gap and later committed an error en route to the Nationals three-run inning.
He was able to settle in and keep the Pirates in position to win the game. “Settling in, it allowed all my pitches to work,” said Brubaker. He came back from a rough first inning to set the Nationals down in order in the second.
The Nats threatened again in the fourth when Juan Soto stepped to the plate with runners on the corners. Brubaker struck him out looking for the second time of the game to end the inning. When it came to Brubaker’s mindset against Soto, his philosophy was simple, “Just attack him.” Brubaker did just that and kept Soto off the bases in three plate appearances
Brubaker was able to work into the fifth inning and did a good job of keeping the Pirates in a position to win the game. “Credit to [Brubaker], that’s an easy opportunity to collapse and just give in and he didn’t and he kept competing,” said teammate Daniel Vogelbach
Big Night for Big Dan
Vogelbach had his best game so far in a Pirates uniform. He collected four hits, including a home run and a double and drove in a pair of runs.
Vogelbach is in a somewhat unfamiliar role with the Pirates batting leadoff, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. “You lead off innings when you’re hitting fourth or fifth in the lineup too so that doesn’t really matter. Where you’re at in the lineup, you’re always going to hit leadoff at some point in an inning, so I just try and take it as another at-bat.”
Vogey hits. pic.twitter.com/uQD9mHiaVp
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 15, 2022
He’s not a traditional leadoff hitter, but he did everything the Pirates could have wanted out of a leadoff hitter in this one.
First Win For Roansy
Roansy Contreras was only pitching in his third Major League game, but the right-hander picked up his first career win. “It was very exciting, very emotional as well,” he said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “To be able to be a part of the victory that we brought to this team is something I can’t describe right now.”
Contreras had all his stuff working against the Nationals. He pitched three scoreless, allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out five batters.
Walk This Way
After not drawing any walks in the home opener, the Pirates drew eight on Thursday, giving them a total of 13 in their last two games. The patient approach was part of the reason the Bucs erupted for nine runs on the night and certainly helped them earn a win.
For a team that doesn’t rely on the long ball for the bulk of their runs, getting guys on base is crucial for manufacturing runs. Six different Pirates drew a base on balls in this game.
What Could Have Been
Vogelbach was just a triple shy of the cycle, something manager Derek Shelton would have loved to see. “It would have been magical if he hit for the cycle, because he would have gotten a triple and that would have been fun to watch,” Shelton said with a chuckle.
If the triple had happened, it would have been the first triple of Vogelbach’s Major League career. Alas, all we can do is envision what might have been.