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Vogelbach’s Big Night Leads Pirates to 9-4 Win Over Nationals

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates welcomed the Nationals to PNC Park on Thursday for the first in a four-game series. Daniel Vogelbach had a big night, collecting four hits, and the Pirates defeated the Nats 9-4.

Vogelbach blasted a leadoff homer into the bullpen in the home half of the first, his first as a Pirate and the first leadoff homerun of his career. His four-hit night marked the first four-hit game since 2019. He fell a triple shy of the cycle and recorded a pair of RBIs.

The Pirates recorded six hits and touched home four times after sending eight men to the plate in the third. After a Vogelbach single, Bryan Reynolds, fresh off his new two-year deal, hit a two-run shot to tie the game up at three.

Yoshi Tsutsugo snapped an 0 for 12 streak with a base hit and Ben Gamel followed with a single of his own. Kevin Newman lined a ball into the gap in left-center, plating both runners, but Newman was thrown out trying to extend his double into a triple. Cole Tucker added his fist hit of the year in the inning, a triple off the wall in center field.

JT Brubaker battled wildness in the first inning, issuing three free passes to the first four batters to load the bases. Keibert Ruiz hit a flyball to right-center that Hoy Park couldn’t track down. One batter later, Yadiel Hernandez hit one Park’s way again. It was down for a base hit, and Park booted it allowing two runners to advance, giving Washington an early lead.

After the Pirates took a 5-3 lead, the Nats cut the Pirates deficit to one in the fifth after a Maikel Franco sacrifice fly. Anthony Banda was able to prevent further damage by getting Lane Thomas to fly out to center field.

Roberto Perez gave the Pirates an insurance run in the home half of the inning with a run-scoring base hit up the middle, his first RBI as a Pirate in the fifth. Vogelbach and Gamel each drove in runs for the Pirates in the seventh.

Roansy Contreras pitched three strong innings in relief. He held the Nats scoreless, allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out five. He picked up his first career big league win.

The Pirates pick up their third win in the last four games and move to .500 on the season.

Game two of the four-game set will be Friday at 6:35. Mitch Keller (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will get the ball for the Pirates against Nats right-hander Erick Fedde (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Takeaways

  • Big Fly From the Big Man: Vogelbach finds himself in an unfamiliar spot atop the Pirates lineup, but there’s some intrigue with him in that position in the order. Though he has yet to draw a walk as a Pirate, his career walk rate of 15.5% is impressive. Mix that in with his big power that he showcased in this one provides for some interesting tools atop the Pirates lineup from their unorthodox leadoff man.
  • Wild Start: Between Brubaker and Joan Adon, the duo combined to issue five free passes in the first inning. Brubaker, who was also charged with a wild pitch in the inning, threw only 16 of his 30 pitches for strikes. For Adon, only 14 of his 26 first-inning pitches went for strikes. Unlike how the Nationals capitalized on the Brubaker free passes, the Pirates weren’t able to cash in.
  • Slump Stoppers: A couple Pirates were able to snap out of their early season funks and put together some productive at-bats. Tucker was hitless over his first 10 at-bats to begin the year, but recorded three hits including his triple and added a stolen base. Tsutsugo’s 0 for 12 was snapped and he also reached via a base on balls and recorded a sac fly. Vogelbach’s four hits on the night give him six in his last two games after a bit of a skid to begin his Pirates tenure.
  • Walk This Way: After failing to draw a base on balls in the home opener on Tuesday, the Pirates have combined to walk 13 times over their last two games. The Pirates drew 11 free passes in their first three games against the Cardinals to begin the season. Six different Pirates drew walks for the Pirates on Thursday: Reynolds, Tsutsugo, Gamel, Newman, Perez and Ke’Bryan Hayes. 
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