Andrew McCutchen drove in five runs Mitch Keller struck out twelve batters on Saturday night, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Pirates needed every bit of Cutch’s and Keller’s heroics on Saturday, as they fell behind early to the A.L. Central division-leading Twins again on Saturday. McCutchen had two hits, including a two-run single to tie the game in the sixth and a three-run homerun in the top of the ninth. Keller tallied his 10th win of the season, giving up two runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out twelve batters, including a huge sixth inning, when, after loading the bases with no outs, he proceeded to strike out the side to end the threat.
Minnesota did take the lead in the first inning on a ball hit by Max Kepler, deflecting off Keller and ending up in right field. Jorge Polanco scored the game’s first run. It remained a 1-0 game until the bottom of the fifth, when Michael A. Taylor singled home Christian Vazquez to make it 2-0.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth, McCutchen delivered a clutch, game-tying two-run single to center field, scoring Liover Peguero and Jason Delay. Ke’Bryan Hayes stepped to the plate next and singled home Ji Hwan Bae to make it 3-2.
Bae doubled Peguero home in the top of the seventh make it a 4-2 lead, but Minnesota answered with a run of its own in the bottom half of the frame. Polanco’s sacrifice fly scored Vazquez to make it a one-run lead once again.
But McCutchen’s three-run homerun in the ninth ended up being the difference in the game. His 11th long ball of the season went over the center field wall to make it 7-3.
The Twins made things very interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Polanco’s single scored Taylor to make it 7-4. But with runners on first and second and no outs, David Bednar danced his way out of danger for his 26th save of the season. Carlos Correa grounded into a double play and Kepler popped out to third base to end the game.
This was a great win for the Pirates, and an equally big game for McCutchen. He has certainly seen his struggles this year, as has the rest of the team, but Saturday was a feel-good win all around. They will now look to take the series when the two teams meet back up at Target Field for the rubber match on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Borucki will be on the mound for Pittsburgh against Dallas Keuchel for Minnesota.
Record vs. Twins: 1-1
Record vs. American League: 15-24
Record on the Road: 26-36
Overall Record: 55-68
Let’s Go Bucs!