Entering the day, the Pirates found themselves in danger of being swept by the Twins in a 4 game home-and-home series and extending their current losing streak to 8 games. During their current skid the Pirates have utilized any method you can think of to lose games and possibly even invented some new ways in the process; mostly wasting solid starts from their pitchers, exhibiting an overwhelming lack of offense and falling victim to regular breakdowns from the bullpen. At the present time Pittsburgh has a firm grasp on the cellar position in the NL Central with a record of 2-10 and a -20 run differential, 8 full games off the pace of the first place Chicago Cubs.
For Pittsburgh the young right JT Brubaker would be making his first major league start in his third appearance for the Pirates this season. Last year Brubaker would only start six games in between the AAA Indianapolis Indians and the Short Season A West Virginia Black Bears (6.2 innings of rehab) before being shut down with a right forearm strain. Unfortunately for Brubaker his return to the mound as a starter would not be the fairy tale beginning that he and his many supporters would be wishing for as he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits, including a 3-run homer to Miguel Sano, in the top of the first. After an efficient 2nd inning, Brubaker one again found himself in trouble once again in the top of the 3rd. With runners on 1st and 2nd he struck out Sano swinging and induced a fly out to Reynolds, ending the threat and his day. Through 3 innings his final line was 2 strikeouts, 2 walks and 3 earned runs on 4 hits.
Opposing Brubaker for the Twins would be off-season acquisition from the Dodgers, Kenta Maeda. Thus far on the season Maeda had performed very well; posting a 3.75 ERA, a .83 WHIP and a 2-0 record in 3 starts, while striking out 12 in as many innings of work. However, he wouldn’t execute his pitches quite as well to begin this contest, allowing the Pirates to get back into the game in the bottom of the second. After back to back singles by Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds, Gregory Polanco would launch his first home run of the season on a line drive to right center field, knotting the game up at 3 piece.
Stratton would continue to work the 8th, retiring the first two Twins before giving way to Sam Howard after a single by Ehire Adrainza.
For the next 3 innings, Maeda would put it in cruise control, while Cody Ponce gave up solo homers in back to back innings, leaving the Pirates trailing 5-3 after six. Chris Stratton and Tyler Clippard would then combined for a scoreless 7th, setting up a battle of the late inning bullpens. Amid all of this the Pirates would muster a run on a ground out by Phillip Evans to make the score 5-4 going into the 9th inning.
In the bottom of the 9th Pittsburgh would once again call on their late inning magic. After a lead off single by Moran and a double by Reynolds, the stage was set for a game winning walk off single by Kevin Newman in the pinch hitting role. As two runs crossed the Pirates earned the walk off win and their first in over a week.
Tomorrow the Pirates will begin a three game weekend series versus the Tigers, looking to start a winning streak as Chad Kuhl takes the hill at 7:05 EST at PNC Park.