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Pirates Takeaways: The Offense Finally Breaks Out With 10 Runs



PITTSBURGH — It’s no secret that the Pirates have had their struggles at the plate lately. Over their last 11 games prior to Wednesday’s win over the Rockies, the Pirates had only managed 23 runs (2.09 runs per game). Four of those 23 runs came against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

The Bucs bats finally broke out, defeating the Rockies 10-5 and earning a series win. It marked the first time this season the Pirates scored double-digit runs.

“There were a lot of good things that happened, we hit the two three-run homers, we had a couple walks in there, we made a nice baserunning play,” manager Derek Shelton said. “It was nice to break out.”

Jack Suwinski hit a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth, and Josh VanMeter followed the next inning with a three-run bomb of his own to pad the Pirates lead.

“We’re always talking in the dugout and in the cage that the offense is really close to having that big breakthrough that we saw today,” said Suwinski. “I was just glad I was able to contribute to that.

Cal Mitchell collected a pair of hits, including an RBI double, and Ben Gamel added two run-scoring singles. It really was a complete effort from the Pirates lineup who did most of their damage in the later innings against the Rockies bullpen.

The Pirates were also finally able to capitalize with runners in scoring position. The Bucs were near the bottom in most offensive categories with RISP entering play, but the Pirates went 5 for 12 with RISP against the Rockies. It’s no coincidence that it lead to a breakout.

An Unfamiliar Spot

Bryan Reynolds found himself penciled into the leadoff spot of the Pirates lineup for the first time this season and the first time since Sep. 2020. The move worked out alright as Reynolds lined a double, drew a walk and scored a run.

Shelton knew that the Pirates lineup needed a shakeup. “We haven’t been scoring runs, so why not mix it up.”

It’s been an interesting stretch for Reynolds. From Apr. 30-May 10, Reynolds was 11 for 32 (.344) with a 1.072 OPS. Over his next five games, Reynolds went 0 for 18, and he followed that slump with a 7 for 15 (.467) stretch over his next four games. Reynolds’ third-inning double on Wednesday snapped an 0 for 10 skid.

If he wants to break out of his early-season slump, Reynolds will have to show more consistency, and maybe a trip to the top spot of the lineup will finally get him going.

Castro Getting Comfortable 

With a sixth-inning single, Rodolfo Castro extended his hitting streak to four games. Over that span, He’s 4 for 11 (.364). Castro was on base twice in the game as he also drew a walk, and has now reached base safely in 11 of his last 13 contests.

“I think he’s getting comfortable, there’s learning experience. He continues to grow and look like a big league hitter,” said Shelton about Castro.

Shelton alluded to the fact that guys around the league may have taken notice on Castro after hitting a homer for his first five hits last season, and adjusted to him. Now, he feels like Castro is adjusting back.

De Los Santos Debuts

After having his contract selected from Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday, Yerry De Los Santos finally debuted in the win and sealed the victory for the Pirates. The right-hander allowed a walk and a base hit, but kept the Rockies scoreless and picked up a pair of punch outs.

It wasn’t a cupcake for a debut for De Los Santos, and Shelton knew that “I thought he did a nice job, Major League debut, ninth inning, had to go through the heart of their order.”

“Fastball came out nice, we saw the sinker, was able to execute some breaking balls. He had some guys on base but I didn’t think he got sped up at all,” he added.

De Los Santos had a strong season with Indianapolis, and gives the Bucs an intriguing live arm out of the pen.

Thompson’s Strong Stretch Ends

Entering play, Zach Thompson only allowed one run on eight hits over his last three starts, a span of 16 innings. The Rockies tagged him for four runs on seven hits, but the Pirates were still able to pull out the victory.

It will be interesting to see how Thompson responds next time out, when he’s scheduled to go against the potent Dodgers lineup.

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