The Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense has been the main culprit behind the team’s struggles this year, and rightfully so. But on Tuesday night, the Bucs’ bats were on fire as they won the series-opener over the San Diego Padres by a 9-4 score at PNC Park.
The Pirates totaled 16 hits, including three homeruns. Six different players had multi-hit games, including Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana, who had three each. Nick Gonzalez and Santana had two RBIs each to lead the team.
Rich Hill started for Pittsburgh, earning the victory (7-7). After a rough start, he settled in a bit, battling his way through six innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. Roansy Contreras earned the save by pitching three innings while giving up just two hits and one walk.
The Padres’ pitching staff was victimized tonight, including starter Reiss Knehr, who gave up five runs on six hits and two walks in two innings on the mound. The bullpen didn’t do much better, collectively surrendering four runs (three earned) on ten hits.
Singles by Gary Sanchez and Ha-Seong Kim in the second inning gave the Padres a 3-0 lead, and it looked as though it may be a long night for the Pirates. But Pittsburgh responded immediately in the bottom of the inning with three runs. Ji Hwan Bae’s sacrifice fly got them on the board, and was followed by a triple by Gonzalez and a single by McCutchen to tie the game.
Solo homeruns by Santana (7) and Jack Suwinski (16) in third gave the Bucs a 5-3 lead, and a RBI single by Henry Davis in the fourth made it 6-3.
San Diego’s lone remaining run of the game came in the sixth inning when Nelson Cruz singled home Xander Bogaerts to make it 6-4. But once again, the Pirates answered immediately with two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Santana singled home another run and was later followed by a RBI single by Rodolfo Castro. Gonzalez finished the scoring an inning later on a solo homerun, a 442 foot monster and the first of his MLB career, to make it 9-4.
This was the perfect way to start this home stand for the Pirates. A very difficult and frustrating series against the Miami Marlins concluded on Sunday, and it was pivotal for this team to come out and respond in front of their home crowd. They have now put themselves in a strong position to come away with a series victory.
The two teams will be back in action on Wednesday evening at PNC Park in the second game of the series. Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Padres against Mitch Keller for Pittsburgh.
Record vs. Padres: 1-0
Record vs. N.L. West: 10-6
Record at Home: 19-19
Overall Record: 36-42
Let’s Go Bucs!