The Pittsburgh Pirates (20-8) dominate the Washington Nationals (9-16) in a 16-1 victory and take both games of the split doubleheader.
Lost in the offensive explosion will be the performance of Vince Velasquez (4-2, 3.06 ERA).
Velasquez showed up to Saturday’s game on a personal three-game winning streak and 12 straight scoreless innings pitched dating back to the second inning on April 18 against the Colorado Rockies.
Velasquez didn’t have his best stuff early on in Saturday’s game, but after the second inning, Velasquez allowed minimum traffic on the bases.
In yet another start, Velasquez relied heavily on his slider (50%) against the Nationals and induced five out of his 11 whiffs with it.
When it was all said and done, Velasquez went six full innings and gave up no earned runs, five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. In addition, Velasquez has now gone 18 straight innings without allowing a run.
The Pirates showed a ton of patience in Saturday’s nightcap, especially against the Nationals’ starter, Chad Kuhl (0-2, 9.41 ERA). In just 3.2 innings pitched, the Pirates forced Kuhl to throw 100 pitches exactly and drew four walks.
The Pirates’ patience enabled them to hit the Nationals where it hurt and drove in those free base runners more often than not against the former Pirates’ pitcher.
Overall, the Pirates’ offense did not warmly welcome their former compadre and hammered him for eight earned runs.
The offensive explosion started in the first inning when Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a leadoff double, and then Bryan Reynolds drew a walk.
Andrew McCutchen gave the team a productive out, advancing Hayes to third base on a fly ball, and then Carlos Santana hit a deep sac-fly to center field.
The Pirates led 1-0.
In addition, after Reynolds stole second base in the first inning, the Pirates have now tallied 39 stolen bases so far this season. That is the most in the major leagues in March/April since the Florida Marlins stole 48 in 2003.
The Pirates’ offense got right back on track in the second inning with a leadoff walk to Connor Joe, a Rodolfo Castro single, and then a sac bunt by Tucupita Marcano, advancing the runners to second and third.
Jason Delay hit a deep sac-fly to center field, scoring Joe and giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
The double parade occurred in the third inning when Bryan Reynolds had a leadoff double, Carlos Santana then hit a one-out double, and then Jack Suwinski replaced Santana with a double of his own, the very next at-bat.
Santana and Suwinski’s doubles both resulted in RBIs, and the Pirates doubled their lead 4-0 through three.
Speaking of doubles, the Pirates doubled their lead again in the fourth inning, and it all started with a one-out walk to Marcano and then a hit-by-pitch to Delay.
Hayes then drew a dour-pitch walk to load the bases for Reynolds with one out.
Reynolds took advantage of a 1-0 hanging sinker and pulled it into right field, scoring Marcano, and then a fielding error by Dominic Smith allowed Delay to score, and all of a sudden, it was a 6-0 Pirates’ lead
By the end of the fourth, McCutchen had hit a sac fly, Santana registered another RBI with a single, and the Pirates took a commanding 8-0 lead preserving the backend of the bullpen.
Suwinski decided to rub some more salt in the Nationals’ wound in the sixth inning.
With the bases loaded and just one out, Suwinski got an 0-0 hanging sinker down the middle and punished the ball 444 ft at 114 mph for a grand slam giving the Pirates a 12-0 lead.
That 444 ft grand slam was the longest one by a Pirates’ player in the Statcast era.
It might as well have been the World Series for the next Pirates’ RBI as Drew Maggi, after 13 years, finally registered his first major league hit and RBI in the seventh inning, scoring Delay, and the Pirates hung a bakers’ dozen on the Nationals.
Miguel Andujar decided to get in on the fun with a three-run homer off position player Lane Thomas. The Pirates took a 16-0 lead.
With the Pirates’ insurmountable lead, they allowed Cody Bolton to make his major league debut, and he pitched two full innings and allowed just one hit.
The Nationals finally broke through in the bottom of the ninth against Yohan Ramirez with a Smith homer to deep center field, making it 16-1.